Ethereum Developers Consider Bricking Bitmain’s Antminer ETHash Based ASIC

ETHash has always been considered “ASIC resistant” which is that the made algorithm so it wouldn’t be easy to make an ASIC for it like SHA-256 for Bitcoin, Scrypt for Litecoin and others.  This has been a very controversial issue especially since Bitmain announced they have Cryptonight miners for Monero and ETHash miners for Ethereum to be released soon.

At first I thought the developers had a plan to inject some malicious code that would literally brick the miners firmware or something similar, but the idea of hardforking is much more tame and harmless to everyone but Bitmain and their clients.  There’s also a lot at stake for Bitmain who could be in serious trouble from its buyers if they ship miners that are completely useless.  It remains unseen to know if they could update their firmware to compensate or if completely new ASIC hardware would be required for the update in algorithms.  Either way if Bitmain cannot deliver, it could push them to the brink or at least serious financial damage.  It does cost a lot to R&D and manufacture these ASICs and I could see this pushing them out of business or close to it.

Monero is hardforking in less than 5 days to combat this issue but the Ethereum team is still debating what to do.

Monero-Hardforks-Response-To-Bitmain-ASIC

This is a very interesting situation with competing interests and warring camps involved.  But to me this really outlines serious security flaws with Monero, Ethereum and all other Public, Permissionless Blockchain cryptocurrencies (the vast majority including Bitcoin, Litecoin etc..).

Hardforks are usually done for bad reasons, to counterfeit and copy an existing coin as an easy cashgrab (eg. Bitcoin Gold, Bitcoin Cash etc.. Litecoin Cash).  That is one serious integrity and security issue there.  Why is it even possible to literally copy, counterfeit almost any coin?  It devalues the original coin and is essentially stealing from the original coin holders and developers.

But in this case Monero and Ethereum would be doing hardforks for a “good reason” but it’s still a pain.   Would you accept it if your bank did a hardfork and your account stopped working or by not upgrading on time your currency could be lost or converted to another?  I understand why they want to stop ASICs but to me Bitmain is not the problem itself, they are simply exploiting, for profit the weakness that all cryptocurrencies have.  This weakness of PoW or mining is supposed to secure the network but in its absurdity it just makes things slow, insecure and ensures “whoever has the most money to buy more hashing power will control the currency”.  Making it even worse, mining pools and large farms could wreak havoc by broadcasting false transactions, causing others to lose money where they think they’ve received money they haven’t.

Going back to the purpose of mining, in reality today it guarantees two things.  0 security, slow transactions and centralization.  It creates a virtual arms race of whoever can buy enough hashing power is the winner and owner.  This was never the intention of Satoshi or cryptocurrencies.  There’s no way a small, average person will ever be an equal stakeholder in cryptocurrency.  Whether everyone uses an ASIC, CPU or GPU the issue remains the same.  It is a flaw and weakeness in how cryptocurrencies work.

The solution in my view is to make a community-based coin that works off PoS (Proof of State).  Typically these kinds of currencies will be faster and they can be more secure if they are not permissionless (a nice way of saying no security at all and EVERYONE can access the network and broadcast any transaction whether valid or fraudulent).  The whole world shouldn’t be involved in processing my payment for a coffee and they definitely shouldn’t know about it!

So to me when I see people say “mining secures the network”, that was the intention but in practice it’s not the case.

Some serious rewrites in the architecture of all currencies need to be rewritten and the permissionless design and PoW must come to an end for cryptocurrencies to be actually be usable, functional and sustainable for both personal and business use.

The fact that hardforks are even possible or even worse, necessary to stop others from obtaining too much hashing power is proof of concept that mining just doesn’t work.

 

 

We Need A Better Coin Now!

Cryptocurrency today as of the time of this writing is in a bit of a flux and identity crisis.  Part of this is due to a well directed campaign in the news via government and banking entities.  However, I will always give credit where it is due and many of the flaws that have been pointed out by these entities are completely true.  In fact, from a business, security and IT standpoint I find that most cryptocurrencies are almost impossible to use.  There are coins that individually address “some of the issues” but I have never seen a coin or team that “just seems to get it”.

Whether it’s how an ICO is run, basic functionality, security, privacy, getting out information it seems apparent to me that the vast majority of teams and coins do not sufficient combined IT and Business Knowledge to make things work.

There are just so many issues with a lot of the top coins that could kill them, let me name a few in no particular order.

Speed – 99% of cryptocurrencies are extremely slow taking minutes, hours or several days to complete a transaction!

Expensive – A lot of times you can spend a small fortune just sending a small amount of coin to someone (you could spend $100 to send $5 of coins with some Ethereum tokens for example)!

Security – Most coins are by default completely insecure.  Any coin that has a public ledger is insecure and has 0 privacy.  This allows for replay attacks and all kinds of nasty things.  It also means your activities are easily tracked and traced.  Imagine if your competitors can see exactly who is paying and who you are paying including the full amounts?  It would put your business at a huge disadvantage.  Having “public, permissionless blockchain” such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin etc..  will mean the coins can never be secure when the whole public is involved.

Hardforks – Most coins are easily counterfeited, hard or softforked where basically anyone can copy an entire coin and just rename it and call it their own, while confusing and devaluing the original coin holders.  This should never be able to happen just for the reason of sanity, continuity and integrity.  There have already been scams like the BTG Scam and replay attacks.

PoW/Mining – It is absolutely crazy that mining still exists, as cool as it originally was, mining is now a hindrance in many ways to the cryptocurrency community.  Not only is it wasteful in terms of energy resources, it is unsustainable in both environmental, monetary and functional terms.  Returns are so slow with most major coins that it is almost not worth it unless your power is cheap or free.

To top it off why on earth should we let transactions be controlled by “miners finding the next block”.  It doesn’t secure the network anymore and that is because coins like Bitcoin were created before ASICs and assumed “no one would party would hold more than 10% hashing power”.  Of course single pools in China have way more than 10% power and so do some mining farms possibly.  This means that pools and large farms could work together to defraud people by sending false transactions and confirming it among themselves.  By the time the scam is realized the parties who initiated the scam would already have escaped with the money.

Mining also leads to centralization, the very thing that cryptocurrency was meant to avoid.  This inevitable because as difficulty increases, only large corporate or government players with deep pockets can continue.

The same applies with running full nodes, large organizations will be the one running them.

Usability – Most coins are unusable because they are slow and insecure but to make it worse there’s more.  The current coins are not easily integrated in a secure way.  You shouldn’t have to run a full Litecoin, Bitcoin or Ethereum node on a huge mega server with tons of RAM and HDD just to create receiving addresses and receive payments.  This not only inefficient, it is insecure because the same computer that generates the receiving addresses is usually the one that holds the wallet/funds.

To top it off you can send to a wrong or non-existent address and lose your money forever with virtually all currencies.  Blockchain is just a big database, couldn’t some query be done to make sure the address actually exists?!  On top of that there is no feedback, send by e-mail or notifications by e-mail you always need to keep your wallet open to notice.  It would be much easier if these different functions are kept separate.  However this is a problem too because most cryptocurrencies are admittedly not secure if you don’t sync the entire chain.  And that’s another issue, syncing is a huge issue with coins like Ethereum it is extremely slow and takes a ridiculous amount of CPU cycles.  Imagine paying someone from Craigslist in person  and one of you says “hold on mate sorry I have to wait for my wallet to sync for hours or days!”.