For a while now, a 51% attack has been ongoing against Vertcoin (VTC) which has caused the network $100K in double spending.
Vertcoin’s Period of Challenge
Mark Nesbitt, the security engineer of Coinbase described in a blog post how Vertcoin’s network suffered recurring 51% attacks, accompanied by a reorganization of length 310 blocks and 307 blocks in depth, the largest recorded, which specialists described as the probable reason for the $100,000 double spending that ensued.
The events began in October and took place four different times, with the last time happening on December 2nd as the blog post was being published.
As pointed out by Nesbitt, four reorganizations were the result of the latest event which caused double-spend transactions.
It is of great importance to remember that the mining algorithm of Vertcoin is intentionally designed in opposition to ASIC and its related devices to render them inefficient. As a replacement, the mining conducted on the network is intended to be realized only through prevalently available graphics cards. This is believed to be an effort to resist mining centralization.
Nesbitt is of the opinion that this is hindering the attainment of the security goals of the network because it creates an opportunity for any graphics cards user from any part of the world to gain access to the coin and possibly attack it compared to networks that use ASIC for mining, and an example of such networks is Bitcoin, where an attack on the coin can only come from ASIC users.
Network Strength Significance
Cryptocurrencies like ZenCash, Verge, Bitcoin Gold and lots more have experienced an increased number of 51% attacks this year. As a result, some projects have sprung up to ensure that incidents like this don’t happen again in the future. The team behind Bitcoin Gold has disclosed that their solution to avert 51% attacks is a hard fork.
A 51% attack occurs when the control of over 50% of the computer power or mining hash rate of a network is assumed by a particular person or a group of people.
Today, the most protected blockchain network is that of Bitcoin. In design, the mining of Bitcoin requires a lot of energy. For new blocks to be generated, a significant amount of computing power is needed to operate the unique mining hardware, and that requires electrical power of considerable proportion.
To put it more clearly, to defend the network cost less compared to attacking it which is more expensive.
Crpto51, a tracking site, makes a hypothetical evaluation of what it costs each network during each 51% attack. According to Crypto51, to maintain an attack of that magnitude against Vertcoin would demand a price of $125 for every hour, while $255,744 would be the cost for attacking Bitcoin network per hour.