A website called crypto51.app has begun assessing the approximate cost of a 1 hour 51% attack on various blockchains. It is aimed at getting people to talk about these problems and solutions if any.
A 51% attack refers to when a miner or miners with over 50% of the blockchains processing power take control of the network. Nodes on proof of work cryptocurrencies recognize the blockchain with the most hashing power as the correct version of history. This can lead to attacks where the attacker is able to double spend cryptocurrencies, as seen earlier this week on Bitcoin Gold [BTG].
The site aggregates hashing power data from the website ‘Mine the Coin’, and coin prices from CoinMarketCap. The cost required to mount a 51% attack is calculated by using hashpower rental service from Nicehash’s rental pricing.
The price does not include the block reward gained by the attacker for creating new blocks as long as they attack, which may further decrease the price for the attack.
The solutions for this problem include implementing a Proof of Stake protocol for the blockchain, and building coins on top of other blockchains, such as the ERC20 protocol for coins on the Ethereum network.
The least secure coins listed on the website include famed privacy-centric coin Bitcoin Private [BTCP] which costs a grand total of $778 to 51% attack for one hour. This raises obvious security concerns. The coin is also endorsed by John McAfee, raising awareness about the coin and adding to the risk.
Jackson Palmer comments on Twitter:
“It would cost just $915 to 51% attack Bitcoin Private right now. Ticking time bomb.”
A crypto analyst questions Palmer about the 51% attack:
“This begs the question, why haven’t more 51% attacks occurred?”
To which, Palmer replies:
“Perhaps because the only incentive is malice? I’m not sure if you can effectively short some of these smaller currencies, and they’re on hardly any exchanges so double spending to turn a profit seems minimal. I guess you’d have to go a level deeper and calculate ROI on attack.”
Another non-secure coin is Bitcoin Gold [BTG]. It was recently 51% attacked, with losses to the tune of around $18 million. It costs around $3858 to 51% attack on BTG.
Infamous altcoin Bytecoin [BCN], plagued by meteoric rises and scam accusations, is sitting at a grand total of $557. This is at one of the lowest for the well-known coins on the list.
Other unsafe coins include GameCredits [GAME], Ubiq [UBQ], Gulden [NLG], and Einsteinium [EMC2], at costs of $515, $470, $113, and $77 respectively.
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