One question that lingers in the minds of most traders is: what if Bitcoin gets hacked? During an episode of the Podcast Unleashed, host Laura Shin brought Ethereum Foundation researcher Justin Drake and author Vijay Boyapati together to discuss the possibility of a 51% attack on Bitcoin – and who could.
A 51% attack. . . in dollars
Boyapati started with to propose the idea that security was a spectrum and not a binary. For example, users and even networks may require a different number of transaction confirmations before they are satisfied.
Drake agreed that security was a specter if the attacker’s hash power was below 50%. However, he hasargued that if an attacker controls more than 50% of the hash power, the security becomes binary. Additionally, the attacker attains “God Mode” on Bitcoin, with the power to mine empty blocks until the end of time.
By targeting the proof-of-work consensus mechanism, Drake also claims that an attacker could make “god mode” a reality by purchasing the hash power needed to control 51% of the network.
“And so you can look at, say, the Bitcoin network hashrate which is around 150 million terahash per second and then you can ask yourself: how much does it cost to make and deploy one terahash per second and you can put a dollar amount for that… ”
Assigning a value of $ 50 to a terahash, Drake calculated that an attacker would need around $ 7.5 billion for an attack. He Noted that this “economic shield” would be “peanuts” for nation states like the United States or China trying to attack the network.
For his part, Boyapati argued that the Bitcoin network was created to entice users with greater hashing power to mine Bitcoin instead of attacking the network.
Game theory versus economics
While Drake took an economic approach to attacking Bitcoin, Boyapati used game theory to claim that nation states attempting to attack Bitcoin would face resistance from financial institutions and nation states holding BTC as a reserve asset. .
Next, Boyapati explored a “nuclear option” – changing the SHA-256 proof-of-work feature. He noted,
“In an extremely serious situation, it would be possible for the network participants to say, ‘we want to change our proof of work function’. What would that do to an abuser? Every machine they bought, all the electricity they used to attack the grid would instantly be worth nothing. “
Drake called the solution “flawed”. He noted that the attacker could purchase ASIC miners, GPUs, and CPUs to later repeat the process.
Besides nation states, Drake Noted that attacking Bitcoin was a “game” accessible to billionaire Elon Musk and entities like Microstrategy.
Despite this, Boyapati and Drake agreed on one point: this “in-game skin” was vital to study, as those less involved had the greatest incentive to attack Bitcoin.