51% Attack On Einsteinium (EMC2) Network And Other Large Crypto To Be Live Streamed On Twitch
An unknown Twitter user by the name of GeoCold "Mischief-Maker" has announced his plans to attempt a 51% attack on the Einsteinium (EMC2) network, over a livestream on Twitch on October 13, 2018.
An unknown Twitter user by the name of GeoCold “Mischief-Maker” has announced his plans to perform a 51% attack on the Einsteinium (EMC2) network and another “large cryptocurrency”, over a live stream on Twitch on October 13, 2018.
This is the first time a hacker has detailed plans to attack a cryptocurrency, announcing the time and date the attack will begin, as well as which currency is being targeted and promises to live stream his efforts on popular streaming platform Twitch.
Watch hackers exploit crypto vulnerabilities in real-time
Cryptocurrency isn’t new to the threats posed by numerous hackings and thefts, which have increased in frequency over the last couple of years.
One thing to note, however, is that all these attacks have happened without any prior warning to the community or the project involved.
Should the attacker fulfill his promise to carry out a 51% attack on Einsteinium (EMC2), this will show that even advance warning of an attack is not enough to prevent it.
The anonymous attacker, known by his handles “piracy1” and “GeoCold “Mischief-Maker”, has promised to live stream his attempt on October 13. As far as threats go, this is as bold and mischievous as they come.
A brazen attack
51% attacks are a recurring motif, increasing in frequency as the number of potential targets grows. In these attacks, a bad actor assumes majority control of a crypto asset’s hashrate, giving them the capacity to initiate fraudulent double spend transactions.
There have been several such attacks in the last few months, with two of the most high profile coins to fall victim being Bitcoin Gold (BTG) and Verge (XVG).
Bitcoin Gold lost about $18 million in May 2018 after a successful 51% attack allowed criminals to double spend BTG tokens for several days. XVG suffered two back-to-back attacks that tarnished its reputation despite signing one of the most significant partnerships in the crypto industry.
The hacker announced not only the date and time of the attack but also the reason as to why they are going to such lengths to document their actions in real-time. According to posts on social media, there are two reasons the attack will go live:
“1. Demonstrate how easy these attacks are for anyone to do. 2. Generally, teach people about the nuts and bolts of these attacks and potential mitigations.”
Piracy1 says that the intention is to put pressure on the concerned parties to “fix these issues,” meaning they have no intention of attempting double spends.
Low Hashrate Altcoins are sitting ducks
The attacker says they are depositing $50 of their money to complete the experiment, meaning instead of profiting millions in secret, piracy1 is instead spending their own money to educate the community.
“If people donate I might try for Vertcoin which will be $300-500 to attack. But if I stick with Einsteinium it will be very cheap, maybe $20-40. They could hardfork but I doubt they will. It’s also sort of hard to implement a solution that quickly.”
If as little as $50 is all it takes to perform such a sophisticated attack illustrates how easy and accessible the technique really is. Especially vulnerable are proof of work (PoW) coins with a low hashrate, sitting ducks for any would-be attacker.
Crypto51.app says that the cost of financing these attacks is quite low, and a determined attacker can use as little as $22 to disrupt the network of a Scrypt-based altcoin.
Piracy1 is, however, looking forward to demonstrating that it is possible to attack any altcoin outside of the top ten, To finance an attack on a larger coin, they are asking for donations – highlighting Vertcoin as a possible next target.
“If we get $300-500 in donations we’ll have the money to buy the required hashing power to attack Vertcoin…if we go under our goal, we’ll do a larger coin but not Vertcoin, if we go over, the remaining money will go to the EFF.”
With just a few days to prepare for the EMC2 attack, the community is waiting to see whether the Einsteinium team will find a way to stop the attack.
Donation target surpassed
Based on public records, the public address provided for donations currently accumulated 0.134395 BTC or ~$830. This comes from only two separate donations.