Ethereum developers have recently announced that they are about to update their network’s protocol to the much-anticipated proof-of-stake (PoS) algorithm.

As the cryptocurrency market is starting to repair itself from the consolidation it has seen over the last four months, it is time to take a look at what has been happening behind the scenes.

This protocol is aptly named the Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1011 (codenamed Casper); the Ethereum team announced on Friday that the decision to integrate the new protocol is part of a long-term plan to move ETH away from the energy-intensive proof-of-work (PoW) mining protocol.

What’s new?

The current Ethereum protocol currently uses the industry standard PoW mining algorithm.

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin and his well-established development team have been working towards the switch for quite some time. The new PoS model is far less energy reliant and it removes the risk of a 51% attack on the network.

For users who want to partake in network validation, moving to the PoS protocol will require them to store their ETH in a wallet to allow the process of “staking”. If the user does not follow the consensus rules and uses the network purposes other than its intention, the user will risk losing all staked ETH.

When EIP 1011 comes into effect, the company will take its first step towards uniting the future of Ethereum and the deployment of the all-new framework.

Security experts chip in

While the cryptocurrency community eagerly awaits the Casper protocol release, the technology remains under scrutiny by the infosec community, with experts from major tech firms such as VMware calling Casper “weak and vulnerable”, citing certain flaws seen in the source.

Additionally, miners are protesting the change as it eliminates a large proportion of revenue supporting the Ethereum network.

Danny Ryan, one of the lead developers of EIP 1011, has announced to a number of developers that the proposed change is now “ready for review” and that testers are free to suggest changes.

He states, “As the pieces of this puzzle are getting closer to being completed, it is now time to start talking about fork block numbers. In terms of testing… I don’t know when exactly that happens. I, therefore, leave the EIP up for discussion a little bit longer before we start doing our testing.”

Summary

The Casper protocol is an important change user to Ethereum’s consensus algorithm. This protocol is not compatible with the existing Ethereum source code; therefore the switch requires a network hard fork at some point in the future.

Lead developers at Ethereum continue to debate how the change will affect the network, but the team is unlikely to reach a conclusion until the protocol is released on the mainnet.

 

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