Coinfeeds Daily → CoinMetrics: Bitcoin and Ethereum Now Immune To 51% Attacks

CoinMetrics: Bitcoin and Ethereum Now Immune To 51% Attacks

Published: Feb 16, 2024 | Last Updated: Mar 17, 2024
Howard Kane
The representation of Bitcoin and Ethereum being very secure
Image: The representation of Bitcoin and Ethereum being very secure

Recent research deems top cryptocurrencies virtually immune to major cyberattacks, ensuring transaction integrity.

Recent research has brought a wave of relief to cryptocurrency enthusiasts and investors, as it suggests that the two leading cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), have reached a level of security that makes them virtually immune to certain types of cyberattacks. Specifically, the feared 51% and 34% attacks, which could allow attackers to alter blockchain transactions, are now considered "economically unfeasible."

Understanding the Economics Behind the Security

These findings are based on the immense cost that would be required to carry out such attacks. For instance, on December 31, 2023, the cost to attack Ethereum was estimated to be a staggering $34.39 billion. Similarly, for Bitcoin, an attacker would need to invest over $20 billion to produce enough ASIC mining units to gain control. This is not only a matter of financial resources but also a practical impossibility due to microprocessor production limitations.

Moreover, even if an attacker were to consider colluding with hardware manufacturers, they would face insurmountable supply-chain issues. The high electricity costs associated with running the necessary machines further add to the prohibitive nature of such attacks. This combination of factors has led researchers to conclude that the security of Bitcoin and Ethereum has evolved significantly, making the costs and risks associated with attacks far outweigh any potential benefits.

Assessing the Feasibility of a 51% Attack

Coin Metrics, a blockchain analysis firm, has also weighed in on the matter, reinforcing the notion that Bitcoin and Ethereum are now immune to 51% attacks. Their research used a 'Total Cost to Attack' metric, which takes into account the cost and operational expenses required to achieve majority control over the network's mining power or staked crypto.

The findings show that for nation-states or any other entities, the financial and logistical barriers to executing a 51% attack are too high to be viable. For Bitcoin, the cost of such an attack would be around $20 billion, and the scarcity of ASIC mining rigs makes it impossible to acquire the necessary hardware. Ethereum presents a similar scenario, with the cost and time required to mount an attack being extremely prohibitive.

Takeaways

The implications of these studies are significant for the cryptocurrency community. They provide a sense of security for investors and users of Bitcoin and Ethereum, knowing that the integrity of their transactions is protected by economic and logistical safeguards. It also underscores the importance of continued investment in blockchain security and the development of robust decentralized networks.

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