Bitcoin SV, a controversial fork of bitcoin created in the aftermath of the 2017 blocksize wars, has suffered a “massive” attack that may have been an attempt to destroy the cryptocurrency.
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The bitcoin SV price, which hasn’t climbed along with bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies this past year, has lost around 5% since the so-called 51% attack.
Such attacks are attempts by miners that secure cryptocurrency blockchains in return for tokens to overwhelm the network and reorganize the record of transactions, potentially resulting in coins being double-spent and destroying their value. All cryptocurrencies that use distributed ledger blockchains are vulnerable to 51% attacks, with bitcoin itself suffering one in 2014.
“BSV is going through a massive 51% attack,” Lucas Nuzzi, a network data product manager at Coin Metrics, said via Twitter. “After an attempted attack yesterday, some serious hashing power was unleashed today at 11:46AM and attackers are succeeding.”
The attack resulted in three versions of the bitcoin SV blockchain being mined simultaneously.
“There was plenty of confusion across mining pools after the attack, but only one (successful) 14-block [reorganization] since the attack began,” Nuzzi added.
“In response to the ongoing reorganization attack on the BSV network, Bitcoin Association recommends that node operators mark the fraudulent chain as invalid,” the Bitcoin Association, which manages the bitcoin SV blockchain, said via Twitter. “This will immediately return your node to the chain supported by honest miners and lock the attacker’s chain out.”
Bitcoin SV, itself a version of an earlier bitcoin fork called bitcoin cash, was created in November 2018 after developers disagreed over how to grow bitcoin cash.
“BSV is a threat to other so-called cryptocurrencies because it is doing what bitcoin was always meant to do,” a spokesperson for the Bitcoin Association said via email in response to why someone might be trying to “destroy” the bitcoin fork.
While bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by value with a market capitalization of around $700 billion, has become known as a store of value, bitcoin cash and bitcoin SV are aiming to become global payment networks.
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However, both bitcoin cash and bitcoin SV have suffered accusations of centralization, leaving them vulnerable to attacks and manipulation.
Bitcoin SV is supported by Craig Wright, the Australian entrepreneur and founder of blockchain developer nChain who claims to be bitcoin’s mysterious creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Wright has alienated much of the bitcoin and cryptocurrency community with heavy-handed attempts to be recognized as Nakamoto and lay claim to billions of dollars worth of bitcoin.
“This latest attack did, as reported, create three malicious forks containing substantial double-spend attempts, the first two have been successfully repelled by honest miners choosing to reject fraudulent double spends in accordance with the bitcoin whitepaper,” Steve Shadders, nChain chief technology officer, said in emailed comments.
“The third chain is much smaller, just 13 blocks, which miners are in the process reversing as it is much more recent. While the motive isn’t entirely clear at present it seems likely it is little more than theft and profiteering and the fact that we can now repel such actions is very encouraging, it has kept the exchanges, who were targets of these fraud attempts, safe and is completely in line with the white paper.”