How Decentralized Networks Are Minimizing Risks of a Sybil Attacks
As many are undoubtedly aware of, crypto trading comes with a certain amount of risk, which has yet to be reduced by introducing proper regulations. One of the dangers that can affect any coin is known as a Sybil attack. This is basically a campaign during which an attacker creates numerous fake accounts in an attempt to trick the network.
The network is expected to think that there are multiple individuals participating when it is actually a single individual who slowly gains more and more control over the network. After the attacker gains enough control, they can abuse the network's resources, and manipulate them in numerous harmful ways.
These kinds of attacks are typically a decentralized networks' problem, as centralized systems have certain rules and approval measures which will not allow just anyone to become a network participant. Decentralized networks, on the other hand, are permissionless, and everyone can become a participant without a lot of filtering standing in their way.
Ever since cryptocurrencies started gaining more and more value, Sybil attacks became more focused on them. Conducting a successful attack can lead to numerous problems, such as the network rejecting transactions, conducting double-spend attacks, and alike.
Of course, problems such as this were anticipated even before Bitcoin itself was created, and to deal with it, Satoshi Nakamoto introduced a PoW (Proof-of-Work) mechanism that serves as a type of defense against Sybil attacks. This is the process that we now know as crypto mining, where network participants offer their computing power and other resources for verifying transactions and “solving” blocks. In return, they receive a reward in crypto, in this case — Bitcoin.
The mechanism also has another purpose, which is to limit the number of blocks that attackers can produce on their own. Mining blocks is a difficult process that requires a lot of resources, and gaining control over the network would mean huge costs for the attacker.
However, many have found PoW to be flawed or not good enough, which is why different resistance mechanisms appeared as well. Now, thanks to The Block's efforts, there is a Sybil Resistance Mechanisms map which can provide crypto enthusiasts with a deeper insight into how their favorite projects among the top 50 largest cryptos by market cap are defending themselves.
We have already mentioned the Proof-of-Work mechanism previously, and this is a mechanism that secures the blockchain by using the users' computational resources. In return, miners receive rewards, which makes them quite competitive. This leads to large amounts of energy being used in order to gain a larger portion of a reward, and the chain can determine the true state of a ledger by following the path of large energy consumption. Because of this, it is nearly impossible for an attacker to take over PoW-based network. Some of the best-known users of PoW include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, Bitcoin SV, Dash, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, Dogecoin, Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Diamond, Monero, Electroneum, and others.
PoS, or Proof-of-Stake, is a mechanism that uses the miners' economic stake in the network in order to determine how much control they should have and whether they are invested enough to be allowed to validate transactions. The process is pretty simple, and much more energy-efficient — coin-holders can take turns in voting for a block validation, and the larger the size of the miner's stake, the more weight their vote carries.
Delegated-Proof-of-Stake, or DPoS, is quite similar to PoS itself, but it does have one big difference, and that is a limit on the number of miners that can validate blocks. These miners are also picked through a voting system by the rest of the token holders, which allows the community to pick their network's representatives.
Additional Sybil Resistance Mechanisms
Of course, there are over 2,000 coins in the current crypto market, and not all of them have opted to use one of these three mechanisms. Many of them decided to try and come up with their own solutions which have served them so far. Even so, PoW, PoS, and DPoS remain the most popular ones among the top 50 coins, and while this may change in the future, these mechanisms are currently cryptos' best protection from Sybil attacks.