POW based Cryptocurrencies / blockchains which use POW (Proof Of Work) are inherently susceptible to an attack called 51% or double spend. This is where a bad actor or actors manage to control more than 50% of the networks hashrate. I won’t go into detail on how that works here as it has been well covered, especially since the ETC attacks and a simple google search will give you all the information you want. In the last two years 51% attacks have cost investors and businesses many millions of dollars.
Instead I will theorize how an attack on BTC might currently be done.
You can get a rough idea of how much it would cost to control more than 50% of the BTC network here: https://www.crypto51.app/
Problem one, obtaining hash: It would be extremely difficult to find access to enough hash to attack the bitcoin network. The next best option would be reducing network hash to a point where obtaining more than 50% of the hash would be viable.
Now your two available targets are either mining pools or large ASIC farms. Attacking the large mining pools is difficult as these pools are well protected and experienced at mitigating attacks, pools attacking each other is far from uncommon. ASIC farms on the other hand are not nearly as prone to attacks, but generally do have good network protection when it comes to blocking intrusions. BUT, in my experience the vast majority of ASIC farms are not well protected against DDOS attacks.
They may very well have a gigabit pipe to their operation but that is easily overwhelmed with a small DDOS attack, attacks of 300-400gbit these days is common.
Problem 2, finding large ASIC farms: Not as difficult as you might think as many of the large ASIC farms locations are known, even just knowing the country in some cases is enough. Look at the top 10 BTC mining pools for example and note their mining ports, these will typically be rarely used ports, 3333 is one such example.
https://github.com/robertdavidgraham/masscan can scan the entire internet for an open port such as 3333 in anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours. So scanning a single country, ISP, or other location is trivial.
A combination of detailed network reconnaissance, social engineering, and even visits to physical locations to see if they have extended their WLAN a bit farther than they should have which may reveal valuable information will most likely get you what you need.
IF you have done your reconnaissance well maybe you now have what you need to take down 10 or even 20 of the biggest ASIC farms out there which would have a massive impact on the network, how much? I doubt anybody really knows except you.
The Attack Part 1
As part of your reconnaissance you should have already tested each location to see how much power is needed to take them offline and hold them there as well as be have monitoring and automation in place should they they try to change IPs. Having enough power these days would be relatively inexpensive, a few thousand dollars to take all locations offline and hold them there.
Pull the trigger.
The attack part 2
Start mining to your private pool (which is running on a silent fork) with 50%+ of the network hash after the farms are down causing you to come out with the longer chain, success!?
Probably not, at least not for a network with as many eyeballs on it as Bitcoin. There are many hurdles to overcome, such as the community quickly adding large amounts of hash and any coins that you gain being blacklisted across exchanges. There is a reason why Bitcoin has not had a successful 51% / doublespend attack against it in many years.
But as soon as you move away from the top 10 POW based coins this scenario becomes a very real possibility and with proper planning and execution not all that difficult or expensive to pull off and make heaps of cash.
Compromising update servers for a company like Bitmain is a possibility, and if accomplished, a hacker could cause code to be pushed that either makes all updated machines inoperable, or provide a backdoor. These ASICS could then be either taken offline or used to contribute to the 51% attack.
An ASIC specific virus such as the one that has been going around for a few years dubbed “The Bitmain Virus”. This could be used in the same way as update server hack above.
Double Damage (Asset/Token handling chains)
Asset/token handling chains like RVN/ETC would be substantially easier but still expensive to attack (not other vectors), but the damage would be double as not only coins could be double spent but Assets / Tokens as well.
Raptoreum is a hybrid POW/POS and is protected from 51% / double spend attacks. This is thanks to the Smartnode network and Chainlocks. In order to perform a 51% / double spend attack on Raptoreum you would need to control over 50% of the network hash and 60% of the Smartnodes. At the time of writing this 61.37% of the Raptoreum supply is locked in Smartnodes which are collateralizing the protection of the network.
Why double damage matters:
The recent outage on the Solana network brought about in part by a “ddos/spam attack” by scalping bots for a few hours wiped well over 1 billion USD off their market value for a just over a day. All BTC/ETH/USDC/USDT transfers and dex trades on the chain were left in limbo while this was being rectified.
That of situation offers additional incentive for a potential attacker if they set up a few leveraged positions.
The attacks on ETC in 2020 damaged their network to the tune of millions of dollars as well. However, the damage done to them was comparatively mild given that they at the time were not hosting tokens with significant market caps or stablecoins.
One can only speculate what potential value a successful attack on ETH might have given all the defi contracts that would be out of whack because of it but my guess would be several billion in value per hour for a successful attack.
Where does this leaves RTM compared to the rest of the space?
We’re not aiming to be the fastest or highest tps or grandest market reach project. We are however aiming to be one of the most secure yet versatile platforms. This is a completely different type of value which is currently lacking from the contract/asset chain space. This will keep us moving forward and into a new era for Raptoreum!
Written by Charlie and Bigpiggy01.