Bitcoin Cash Rebels Launch 51% Attack to Destroy BCH Hard Fork

In the letter

  • Voluntarism.dev, an anonymous group of miners and old guard whales, launched a 51% attack on Bitcoin Cash ABC (BCHA).
  • The group relies on the principle of non-aggression (NAP) to justify its attack and protests the controversial hard fork of Bitcoin Cash following the 8% mine tax controversy.
  • The attack changed the code to tax the miners 100% instead of 8%, rendering the mining effort worthless.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with comments from Bitcoin Cash developer Chris Troutner.

Voluntarism.dev, a self-described group by “miners and whales of the old guard” launched a 51% attack on Bitcoin Cash ABC (BCHA) today in protest Bitcoin Cash’s controversial hard fork on November 15th.

The anonymous group changed “The Coinbase Rule” for mining Bitcoin Cash to send 100% of the block rewards to the address associated with the Infrastructure Funding Plan (IFP) – instead of the controversial IFP tax of 8% that led to the hard fork. This would render mining worthless to BCHA for the miners.

A 51% attack refers to crypto-attacks where malicious actors can take a majority (hence 51%) of the network’s hashing rate and single-handedly impose policies on the network.

Chris Troutner, a Bitcoin Cash developer close to BCHA, said Decrypt that the 100% block reward is just a “joke”, far from an existential threat. “Nobody has any incentive to see this code integrated into the production code.”

According to Troutner, the “attack” is merely a code pull request (PR) to the complete node software that Bitcoin ABC controls exclusively and that the miners use to mine. “A miner is free to share and change the software, but at no point can other miners run that software,” he said Decrypt.

The attack is twofold. First, the attacker digs up empty blocks to delay confirming transactions. This doesn’t require a lot of hash power. Second, they flood the network with transactions. This does not require hash performance, but it does cost BCHA.

“Any event in itself is not a serious problem, the Bitcoin Cash protocol will of course fix it,” Troutner said Decrypt.

“But taken together, they are essentially causing a DoS attack, making the network malfunctioning as a payment network. The unknown miner does this for himself at great expense, so that he cannot withstand this attack in the long term. “

In early November, the Bitcoin Cash blockchain was split into two parts: Bitcoin Cash Node (BCHN) and Bitcoin Cash ABC (BCHA). The split, or hard fork, followed the controversial Coinbase rule, a proposed 8% tax on all miners profits that should be presented to a development team. This was extremely unpopular with Bitcoin Cash users.

51% attacks are not uncommon in crypto. They’re expensive too. That summer, Ethereum Classic, a fork of the Ethereum blockchain, suffered three 51% attacksthat may cost the attacker $ 3,800 in rented hash power. In April, Decrypt reported that a one hour 51% attack on Bitcoin Cash cost approximately $ 7,300, which at the time was equal to 1 BTC.

Voluntarism.dev is not put off by the cost of launching these attacks, which it calculates is much less than the cost of the ABC Directive.

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, believes he wants to destroy the network single-handedly.

What sets this attack apart from previous ones is the political burden. In a tweet statement, the group justified its 51% attack with the fact that the “ABC violated the NAP”.

Wearing the libertarian Gadsden flag, the group invokes the libertarian axiom of the “non-aggression principle”, which supposedly prohibits any initiation of violence or coercion.

Accordingly, the group claims ABC instigated violence against miners by introducing the Coinbase rule, which taxes their profits at 8%.

This anti-tax sentiment for reasons of the NAP has long been part of the crypto movement: Bitcoin.com published an instructional video on taxes and the NAP in 2019. The video is presented by Roger Ver, one of the top Bitcoin Cash proponents, wearing a volunteer flag t-shirt.

There is a notable similarity between this 2019 video and today’s statement by Volunteerist.dev, but there is no public indication that Roger Ver is part of the group behind today’s attack.

Troutner doesn’t think Ver is behind this. “He’s too comfortable to be a scapegoat,” he said Decrypt. “I don’t think anyone knows who was really behind the attack, except the attackers. [But] it does not matter. This time next year the attack and the attacker will be forgotten. “

Although the anti-tax attitude for the sake of the NAP from the libertarian crypto enthusiasts and even manifested itself as the reason for today’s attack, the contemporary libertarian philosophers outside the crypto bubble dismiss the principle as questioning.

The price of Bitcoin Cash ABC was not affected by the attack. On the contrary, it hit $ 18.22 today, up 1.33% over the past 24 hours.

“I think the stability of the BCHA price [..] reflects the convictions of the current BCHA owners, ”said Troutner Decrypt. “At this point, it’s really just a waiting game.

“Will the miner run out of money? Or will ABC implement post-consensus and put an end to it? In either case, there is no long-term harm other than potentially weakening confidence. But the price is already so low that Bitcoin ABC and its backers can afford to wait a long time. “