Spoilers for the trailer of Silicon Valley’s season finale.
Tonight’s Silicon Valley season finale is titled “Fifty-One Percent,” and in accordance to the trailer for the episode, it facets a loopy twist centered on what’s referred to as a fifty one % assault. Right here is when an organized team of cryptocurrency miners attain a majority on a blockchain community, which enables them to defend the community hostage and disrupt it in diversified techniques. On the characterize, Pied Piper’s enemies beginning becoming a member of the blockchain community except they reach a fifty one % consensus, which provides them the energy to “delete all of our users, all of our developer apps, smash our coin. This would perchance well be the dwell of Pied Piper,” explains Dinesh.
The fifty one % assault does exist within the accurate world and has been deployed against smaller money treasure Krypton and Shift, that are clones of the extra accepted cryptocurrency Ethereum. Every were attacked by the identical team, which calls itself the fifty one Crew. Once the team held a majority of both money, it then despatched their creators a ransom deliver, stating that extreme smash would happen to Krypton and Shift within the event that they weren’t paid. Right here is a accurate menace; a team of coin miners that adjust bigger than 50 % of the community can wreak havoc by stopping funds between users, or reverse sure carried out transactions, in negate that it would possibly perhaps perchance well glimpse as within the event that they aloof had the money they spent.
For smaller money particularly, rewriting transactions on the public ledger would possibly perhaps well be harmful because of it ruins the legitimacy of all transactions — something that would moreover completely slay the coin. It’s a problem that doesn’t obtain an loyal resolution because of such miners are taking benefit of the decentralized scheme the community is constructed.
Nonetheless Cornell cryptographer Emin Gün Sirer tells The Verge that fifty one % attacks can’t attain quite as powerful smash as the Silicon Valley episode suggests. Whereas messing with a coin treasure this is in a position to perchance smash it, it wouldn’t allow attackers to “delete all of our users, all of our developer apps” as Dinesh suggests.
“Miners at fifty one % or extra obtain quite about a powers, however they must not obtain the skill to substitute the categorical ideas of the system, nor can they usurp funds,” Sirer explains, “They will rewrite the present blockchain in a tiny fashion: they are able to’t introduce transactions that don’t already exist, they’ll omit any transaction that they need, and they indubitably can’t substitute any of the present ideas.”
Sirer suggests that the exaggerated energy attributed to the assault are fair appropriate fair a diminutive of dramatic license. “Every so steadily, for a reputable screenplay, Hollywood will obtain liberties with the technical info on the bottom. I assume we obtain now a form of eventualities here.” Silicon Valley has a long ancient previous of elevating accurate points within the tech neighborhood, even though normally exaggerated for enact. Final week, its penultimate episode highlighted very fair appropriate facets about Bitcoin, and even even though this week’s episode is barely a diminutive much less simply, it aloof facets out a valuable self-discipline. The fifty one % assault isn’t extraordinarily illustrious exterior of the cryptocurrency researcher neighborhood and it does counsel a doubtlessly extreme flaw in fully decentralized networks. For folk attempting to attain business on these blockchains, it’s a problem price acknowledging.