A Bitcoin core developer has come forward and said that all anti 51% attack measures imply centralization and thus go against the core concepts of the currency.
Greg Maxwell calls a 51% attack an attractive mystery and says that it stems from a fundamental lack of understanding of the cryptocurrency and the whole decentralized model.
According to his Reddit post from 5 October, Maxwell goes on to say that trying to mitigate the threat of a 51% attack always results in centralization efforts which are a much bigger threat to the integrity of the Bitcoin system than any hypothetical attack ever could.
A 51% attack can occur when a certain group can control at least 51% of the mining hash rate and thus potentially change the entire network and its underlying algorithm. It could theoretically be the end of the network but it is extremely unlikely to happen, according to most blockchain experts.
Maxwell believes that the whole system is based on the relative positioning of nodes and miners. It will always be a decentralized model building a consensus on the history of transactions that makes up Bitcoin. He said:
“In a truly decentralized system ‘first’ is actually logically meaningless! As an inescapable result of relativity the order which different parties will perceive events depends on their relative positions, no matter how good or fast your communication system is.”
Maxwell went on to criticize more centralized cryptocurrencies including Ripple, EOS and IOTA as they all resort to a single party to impose transactions on the rest of the network. Maxwell believes that any mechanism to have rigging like this would be devastating to the network and the whole process.
While 51% attacks are not commonplace for Bitcoin, some of the smaller cryptocurrencies have been hit by them including the recent hack of Ethereum Classic that led to some double spending before mitigating actions were taken.
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