Ethereum Classic Labs Airs New Plan to Stop Future 51% Attacks

2 September 2020

The leading organization supporting the Ethereum Classic network hopes to better safeguard against future 51% attacks by going after platforms that rent out hashing power.

  • In a Medium post on Tuesday, Ethereum Classic Labs singled out crypto-mining marketplace NiceHash for allegedly facilitating multiple attacks against the network.
  • The firm said it would take "all steps necessary to secure the Ethereum Classic network," including pursuing "legal action against those who conduct or facilitate malicious attacks."
  • It also plans to bring in law enforcement and engage global regulators to provide "accountability" and "transparency" for hash rentals.
  • Malicious actors are claimed to have repeatedly purchased hashrate (computer processing power on the network) from the NiceHash marketplace to execute the so-called 51% attacks.
  • A 51% attack on a proof-of-work blockchain occurs when an actor manages to take control of the majority of the network's hashrate (that is, 51% or more) enabling that person to reorganize (or rewrite) transactions.
  • Ethereum Classic has been hit by three such attacks in the last month, resulting in millions of dollars' worth of its cryptocurrency (ETC) being double spent.
  • ETC Labs said is already working with authorities in "relevant jurisdictions," adding that it will share more information as it becomes available.
  • NiceHash is no stranger to controversy, with its former chief financial officer and co-founder Matjaz Skorjanec having been arrested in Germany in late 2019 following U.S. charges that he ran the cybercrime forum Darkode.
  • After the first two of the recent attacks caused hashrate to plummet, ETC Labs said in late August it was implementing "a defensive mining strategy" to try and keep levels more consistent.
  • While the exact details of the strategy were not revealed at the time due to confidentiality, the initiative failed to stop the third attack.
ETC hashrate since January 2020
Source: TokenView
  • The lower the hashrate of a network, the more easy (and affordable) it is to attack.
  • ETC's hashrate has now dropped to its lowest point in over three years – around 1.56 TH/s, according to Ethereum Classic Explorer.
  • CoinDesk reached out to ETC Labs for more information on its new legal plan, but had not had a reply by press time.

See also: Ethereum Classic Suffers Second 51% Attack in a Week