A fifty-one percent attack is an attack realised by a minor or more dominating more than half of the network’s capacity.
That process is based on controlling the larger amount of computational extent or the larger amount of stake in a cryptocurrency system. According to computer science researcher at New York University, Joseph Bonneau states that there are several methods to control a distributed ledger. Strategies such as bribery attacks and buy out attacks are managed through dominating a capacity that is already in use unlike rental and building attacks which tempt to create new capacities that were not previously used for the consensus protocol. Moreover, the purposes of the strikes can differ from being a temporary takeover to a permanent one.
Although this may be true theoretically, but none of the mentioned strategies above can break down Bitcoin which is covering 52% of the market. By calculations of the software entrepreneur Mitchell Moos, it requires 1.4 billion Dollars to conduct a fifty-one percent attack.Hence, smaller coins are facing the risk.
As an illustration, Monacoin, Bitcoin Gold, Zencash, Verge and Litecoin cash were victims of the malicious attacks throughout the past year. Now, it comes to Ethereum Classic (ETC) blockchain which has been hit in the first week of 2019.
On January 06, 2019, a warning of the possibility of the Ethereum Classic 51% attack was published by SlowMist Zone.A day after, Ethereum Classic responded to confirm the received alert from the Chinese blockchain security firm SlowMist. On the same day, Coinbase release on their official blog stated that 15 attacks were identified in total. Twelve of those attacks included double spend reaching an amount of 219,500 ETC which is equivalent to about $1.1 million.
As serious discussions were initiated about the attackers, the Tweeter influencer and blockchain enthusiast Matt Odell posted his speculation:
Makes sense to me that eth stakeholders are attacking etc ahead of the Constantinople and progpow forks to discourage miners from switching when their rewards are slashed by 33%.
Complete speculation but that makes sense to me. https://t.co/u6I2OErUPU
— Matt Odell (@matt_odell) January 7, 2019
No accusations are off the table even though SlowMist published its analysis about the attack.
The concerns of users and investors have been increasing exponentially with the strikes being hit more often. However, the community is enhancing security in order to reduce the risks. The question remains about the stability of the Ethereum Classic chart depending on price and volume cap.