Sia Co-Founder Predicts 51% Attacks to Rise In 2019 Due to Non ‘Incentive-Compatible’ Protocols


David Vorick, the CEO and co-founder of Sia, a decentralized cloud storage network, has talked about one of the things that scare crypto investors the most: 51% attacks. In case you do not know, 51% attacks happen when someone controls over half of the whole network and uses it to allow malicious transactions.

Ethereum Classic, the crypto that was born out of the Ethereum hard fork in 2017, recently suffered an attack this year, so Vorick is now certain that 2019 will be, unfortunately, the year of the 51% attacks for the industry, a prediction that could not be sadder.

51% Attacks Will Increase

Vorick, the lead developer of Sia, believes that 51% will increase a lot and that now they are starting to become a risk for major cryptos not only the small ones.

Why? He blames bad protocols. According to him, weak protocols are the main cause because they are not incentive-compatible, unlike Bitcoin. He affirmed that the Bitcoin devs strived for something that he called “incentive compatibility”, which means that an optimal decision for each person is the best decision for the group as a whole.

This, he believes, removes selfishness out of the equation because selfish actions will benefit the group instead of breaking the order in it. This way, the protocol is safer.

The main trick to see here is that, obviously, copying Bitcoin would be an idea, however, most developers may have tried to do it, but they did not do it in a good way. Most of the time, the developers actually ended up breaking the incentive compatibility in ways that they did not really hope to because they simply did not understand it very well.

David Vorick explained that the biggest mistake was allowing the use of shared hardware and that this will be exploited for the attacks. If you can use the same hardware to mine many types of tokens, you basically break down all the incentive compatibility. When an algorithm is shared by many cryptos, the incentive is also broken.

Some of the other factors that he affirmed that have broken the system and enabled 51% attacks are the maturing of hashrate marketplaces because they are very easy to access when trying to make one of these attacks.

The Cost For The Attacks Is Now Lower

In the end, the attacks will happen because now it will be easier to do them. This may sound like something crazy when all crypto developers and communities and concerned about securities and upgrading their protocols, but the truth is that it was never easier and cheaper to do it.

Before hashrate marketplaces, attackers would need a lot of GPUs to attack a network. The costs were very prohibitive because they would need a great investment in order to get started. However, with the market growing, now they can only rent the hash power instead of buying the GPUs or the ASIC miners.

By hiring GPUs for a couple of hours and having shared hardware coins, this is even easier now. Not only the attacks are cheaper, anyone can pull them off on smaller chains. Sure, Bitcoin and Ethereum are too big to be attacked, but the same cannot be said of all the Top 50 cryptos in the market today.

Vorick presented his solution: to increase the confirmation time for deposits, this way, it would be easier to undo the attacks as they would have to last longer and would be costlier to do. Vorick has also ended by pleading for the exchanges to adopt better security measures in case of new attacks.

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