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Of course, bitcoin is not the only cryptocurrency out there. Many altcoins have been developed specifically to overcome some of the inherent issues with bitcoin, such as transaction speeds, ease of use, and indeed privacy and anonymity.
Although the exchange vowed to improve its security mechanisms, it suffered from another attack in 2014. This time, it was carried out on a much larger scale. Almost 850,000 bitcoins ($615m) were siphoned off. They achieved this by flooding the exchange with a large number of fake bitcoins. This secure breach was among the first major ones in the bitcoin world.
In 2021, it was found that the coins that were originally stolen have been moved from one wallet to another. It is believed that certain individuals that were involved in the attack are trying to cash in on the high prices of bitcoin.
These conditions can be seen in detail in the functions AcceptToMemoryPool, CheckTransaction, and CheckInputs in the bitcoin reference client. Note that the conditions change over time, to address new types of denial-of-service attacks or sometimes to relax the rules so as to include more types of transactions.
Even though P2Pool reduces the concentration of power by mining pool operators, it is conceivably vulnerable to 51% attacks against the share chain itself. A much broader adoption of P2Pool does not solve the 51% attack problem for bitcoin itself. Rather, P2Pool makes bitcoin more robust overall, as part of a diversified mining ecosystem.
To protect against this kind of attack, a merchant selling large-value items must wait at least six confirmations before giving the product to the buyer. Alternatively, the merchant should use an escrow multi-signature account, again waiting for several confirmations after the escrow account is funded. The more confirmations elapse, the harder it becomes to invalidate a transaction with a 51% attack. For high-value items, payment by bitcoin will still be convenient and efficient even if the buyer has to wait 24 hours for delivery, which would ensure 144 confirmations.
In addition to a double-spend attack, the other scenario for a consensus attack is to deny service to specific bitcoin participants (specific bitcoin addresses). An attacker with a majority of the mining power can simply ignore specific transactions. If they are included in a block mined by another miner, the attacker can deliberately fork and re-mine that block, again excluding the specific transactions. This type of attack can result in a sustained denial of service against a specific address or set of addresses for as long as the attacker controls the majority of the mining power.
The massive increase of total hashing power has arguably made bitcoin impervious to attacks by a single miner. There is no possible way for a solo miner to control more than a small percentage of the total mining power. However, the centralization of control caused by mining pools has introduced the risk of for-profit attacks by a mining pool operator. The pool operator in a managed pool controls the construction of candidate blocks and also controls which transactions are included. This gives the pool operator the power to exclude transactions or introduce double-spend transactions. If such abuse of power is done in a limited and subtle way, a pool operator could conceivably profit from a consensus attack without being noticed.
Undoubtedly, a serious consensus attack would erode confidence in bitcoin in the short term, possibly causing a significant price decline. However, the bitcoin network and software are constantly evolving, so consensus attacks would be met with immediate countermeasures by the bitcoin community, making bitcoin hardier, stealthier, and more robust than ever. 153554b96e