- Ethereum survives a tricky bug that could have introduced the possibility of double spending
- Resilience of the Ethereum blockchain is testimony to its adaptability to both the strict adherence to blockchain immutability and the recognition that real life is messy
As blockchains go, the Ethereum blockchain has endured its fair share of teething issues and come out the stronger for it.
Back in 2014 when Ethereum was released, few at the time would have bet on the fledgling blockchain to eventually become the world’s second largest by market cap.
And in 2016, the hack of the decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO hack as it’s better known, threatened to derail the adoption of smart contracts, given their potential weaknesses.
Since then though, the hard fork of Ethereum – one that recognized the ill-gotten proceeds of the DAO hack to become Ethereum Classic has faded into the shadows, as Ethereum has soared to primacy.
Powering Ethereum’s rise has been a fundamental recognition that while software code is helpful, like humans it isn’t infallible and shouldn’t be approached with rigidity.
And that recognition that the underlying blockchain, which is meant as an immutable source of truth, needs to also be flexible and nuanced enough to cater for the messiness of life, has helped Ethereum.
That Ethereum is still the main blockchain used for smart contracts and powering everything from decentralized finance or DeFi to non-fungible tokens or NFTs is testimony to the resilience of Ethereum.
Ethereum’s resilience was once again tested as it weathered a software bug in its core code that split the world’s most heavily used blockchain and opened up the possibility of spending counterfeit Ether tokens.
One of the biggest challenges for any digital currency is the risk of double spending – spending the same token twice.
Last week, outdated software caused a fork in the Ethereum blockchain, with users rushing to minimize the damage by rapidly updating a key program, and the deviant fork likely to wither as more users adopt the fix.
According to a report from The Block last Friday, at one point, more than half of Ethereum nodes (the computers that secure the Ethereum blockchain) may have been running the bug in their software.
And several Ethereum mining pools, including the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, Binance, appear to have been mining on the wrong version as well.
What was heartening however was that the decentralized community that supports the Ethereum blockchain were quick to spot the vulnerability and quick to act on it, although there were several Ethereum addresses that exploited the bug.
Because the blockchain is built and maintained on consensus, the version of the truth that most closely adheres to the ideals of stakeholders is the only one that ultimately matters.
Earlier this month, the PolyNetwork hack and subsequent reversal and return of the hacked proceeds once again demonstrated the admirable capability of Ethereum stakeholders to self-regulate and police their own blockchain.
PolyNetwork immediately appealed to other stakeholders following the hack to not recognize the proceeds of the hack, including reaching out to Binance, Tether and Ethereum nodes.
The outpouring of support against the hack was phenomenal and may have helped explain why the hacker almost immediately returned the proceeds of the hack.