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| February 22, 2019

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Coinbase Reveals Its Procedure for Handling Contentious Forks

February 22, 2019 |

Coinbase Reveals How the Exchange Manages Contentious Forks

On Feb. 20, the San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase gave the public an inside look at how the company deals with contentious forks. Coinbase engineer Breck Stodghill specifically discussed how the trading platform dealt with the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) split on November 15, 2018.

Also read: ‘Bitcoin Killer’ Onecoin Is Ashes But Investigations Continue to This Day

Replay Attacks, Protection, and ‘Dust Mixing’

Over the last few years, cryptocurrency enthusiasts have gotten used to the idea of forks and subsequent blockchain splits ever since the Ethereum network bifurcated in 2016. Since then there have been a few other notable splits that affected the crypto ecosystem. Coinbase has explained in a blog post written by developer Breck Stodghill that the company believes networks should be able to fork as it’s an “important tool for innovation in the ecosystem.” The only thing is, some forks – specifically ones that don’t have replay protection – can pose “unique security risks” for exchange customers.

Coinbase Reveals Its Procedure for Handling Contentious Forks
An example of a blockchain split.

The Bitcoin Cash network fork in November was one of those instances as the upgrade was contentious in the eyes of an “opposing subgroup.” In order to protect users who held BCH on Coinbase prior to the fork, the company created its own replay protection strategy to mitigate replay attacks. When a cryptocurrency splits in half there are two chains with identical transaction histories, addresses, and balances. Essentially, without replay protection transactions can be double spent by malicious actors and other types of transaction errors can happen.

“To overcome this unique problem, we implemented our own replay protection by using a strategy called “dust mixing,” thereby ensuring that all customer funds are isolated to a specific chain and not vulnerable to replay attacks,” explains the Coinbase developer.

Coinbase Reveals Its Procedure for Handling Contentious Forks
One example of a replay attack is the possibility of interception. At some point, an attacker watching the chain state can sees someone’s transaction data, copies it and re-uses it on the alternate network. Since there is no replay, the transmitter can also suffer from replay vulnerabilities just by making errors on their own by sending both currencies at the same time without splitting them.

When the fork took place, Coinbase utilized the dust mixing technique in order to be sure the firm’s hot wallet and customers’ funds were kept safe. One way to separate two identical chains is by using transaction inputs that only exist on one of the ledgers. When the BCH chain diverged into two, new outputs were created and formed within the miners’ reward. These coinbase rewards are different and separate the mirrored chains going forward.

“Dust mixing refers to the practice by exchange operators of including at least one small chain-isolated input to each newly generated post-fork transaction,” Stodghill’s post details. “At the time of the BCH/BSV fork, we obtained a BCH coinbase reward from a miner. We used the coinbase reward to generate a large set of chain-isolated dust outputs. For each newly generated post-fork BCH transaction, we make sure to include at least one input that is guaranteed to be isolated to the BCH chain (i.e. a descendant of a BCH coinbase reward).”

Coinbase continued by adding:

Any leftover change outputs of Coinbase generated BCH transactions are added back into the pool of chain isolated outputs in our hot wallet and can be used as an input to subsequent transactions to produce additional dust outputs required to service BCH sends off our platform.

Coinbase Reveals Its Procedure for Handling Contentious Forks
How Coinbase used “dust mixing” for replay protection during the BCH/BCV chain split on November 15, 2018.

Contentious Forks Can Lead to Big Exchange Losses

Hard forks are a part of the way blockchains upgrade but contentious forks can lead to splits and subsequent replay attacks if no protection is added by cryptocurrency developers. Back when the Ethereum network fork surprised everyone in 2016, former Coinbase executive Charlie Lee stated that the Ethereum Foundation advised the exchange not to use replay protection. Reports at the time detailed that trading platforms like Coinbase, Yunbi (40,000 ETC) and Btc-e all lost thousands of ETC and ETH during the chaos. On Aug. 6, 2016, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told the cryptocurrency developer Peter Todd that the exchange lost approximately 17,500 ETC ($ 40,000 at the time) from replay attacks.

In its blog post about the BCH/BSV split, Coinbase explains that the company wants to continue creating an open financial system with a trusted reputation. Founded in 2012 by Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, the exchange hasn’t seen any major breaches, unlike many of the other trading platforms created back then. As for hard forks, Coinbase says the firm’s engineers are always working around the clock to find solutions to issues like blockchain splits. “Our security focused approach to hard fork management is a direct result of that mission,” the San Francisco company concludes.

What do you think about the way Coinbase dealt with the contentious BCH fork that took place last November? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, the Coinbase blog, and Pixabay.


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The post Coinbase Reveals Its Procedure for Handling Contentious Forks appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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AP Interview: Maduro reveals secret meetings with US envoy

February 15, 2019 |

President Nicolas Maduro has invited a U.S. special envoy to Venezuela after revealing in an AP interview that his foreign minister recently held secret meetings with the U.S. official in New York.
FOX News

Dating App Reveals Breach on Worst Possible Day

February 15, 2019 |

Those looking for love on the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel received an email from the company on Thursday. Given that it just happened to be Valentine’s Day, users might have expected to open it up and read a word encouragement. Not so much. The email revealed a data breach,…
Newser

Report Reveals Sex Abuse in Southern Baptist Churches

February 11, 2019 |

Two Texas newspapers are out with an investigation into the Southern Baptist church that reveals a long pattern of sexual abuse by church leaders, workers, and volunteers. The Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News found that 380 people—everyone from ministers to youth pastors to Sunday school teachers to church…
Newser

Trump Reveals Date, Location of Kim Summit

February 6, 2019 |

President Trump said Tuesday that he will hold a two-day summit with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam to continue his efforts to persuade Kim to give up his nuclear weapons. “As part of a bold new diplomacy, we continue our historic push for peace on…
Newser

CNN

New report reveals the Mediterranean’s rising death rate

January 30, 2019 |

New figures from the UN’s refugee agency show a rising death rate for people trying to reach Europe’s southern shores.
CNN.com – RSS Channel – World

‘America’s Got Talent’ star Jackie Evancho reveals secret eating disorder battle

January 30, 2019 |

“To this day, it’s hard for me to admit I have an eating disorder.”
FOX News

Bloq Labs Reveals Software Suite That Aims to Increase Hash Power by Double Digits

January 27, 2019 |

The blockchain organization Bloq Labs has introduced a beta version of a new software suite for cryptocurrency miners called Titan. Bloq co-founder Jeff Garzik announced the project at the recent Binance conference in Singapore and claims the protocol can maximize a mining machine’s hashrate by double digits with thoughtful configuration and dynamic adjustment.

Also read: An In-Depth Look at the Trezor Model T Hardware Wallet

Titan’s Mining Management Software Suite Claims to Increase Hash Power by Double Digits

Back in the spring of 2017, the company Bloq introduced a new part of the business called Bloq Labs that aims to support open source projects in the bitcoin and blockchain ecosystem. According to the company’s CEO, Jeff Garzik, Bloq Labs has created a waiting list for miners who want to participate in Titan’s beta testing. The Titan protocol is a software suite dedicated to overseeing cryptocurrency mining infrastructure. If configured correctly, Bloq Labs claims, Titan can increase a mining pool’s hash power “by double digits.” “Titan gets the most out of your machines,” explains the software’s website Titan.io.

Bloq Labs Reveals Software Suite That Aims to Increase Hash Power by Double Digits
Titan has started its waiting list for beta trials.

According to Titan CEO Ryan Condron, the project has been working in stealth mode for some time now and says the software will make “crypto mining easier, more profitable, and more scalable.” Titan has opened its beta waitlist to the public and at the time of publication, there are 71 registrants so far according to the website counter. The Titan program is free to install but the company will gain profit from advanced hashrate production.

Maximize a Mining Rig’s Shelf Life With Titan’s Efficiency

Titan can be tethered to an entire mining farm, improve watt extraction, and provide further optimizations like enhancing overclocking through a proficient system of machine learning. The team hopes large mining facilities will be attracted to Titan’s offerings. Additionally, Titan’s software will be able to mine multiple cryptocurrencies with different consensus algorithms. The protocol will maximize the devices’ shelf life and shave operation costs by keeping machines up to speed, the company’s website explains. Titan’s website also notes that less downtime in the mining industry equals more money.

Bloq Labs Reveals Software Suite That Aims to Increase Hash Power by Double Digits
Titan CTO Kyle Howlett says “[Titan] is a fully integrated and comprehensive software suite that not only utilizes existing tools but adds a whole new layer of automation and optimization onto any mining operation.”

“The fact is, managing mining hardware is a very manual process — Not only do you have to individually access and configure each device, but you must continually monitor and adjust your devices to make sure that they are online and mining the most profitable coin,” explained Condron during the beta launch announcement. “Additionally, there’s the balancing act of managing operational costs and physical infrastructure concerns, such as electricity costs, wire management, and heat dissipation.”

The Titan project is also led by the creator of the cryptocurrency mining profitability website Coinwarz Kyle Howlett. The project’s CTO has been creating mining tools for better ROI since 2012 and he believes the new software takes things to the next level. If configured properly with a mining farm the Titan software brings plug-and-play capabilities to mining, emphasized Howlett. Further, the organization detailed that it has a slew of new optimization features to disclose in the coming months.

What do you think about Titan’s mining management software? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.


Image credits: Shutterstock, Titan, and Pixabay.


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The post Bloq Labs Reveals Software Suite That Aims to Increase Hash Power by Double Digits appeared first on Bitcoin News.

Bitcoin News

Analysis Reveals Da Vinci’s Own Edits on Drawing

January 17, 2019 |

The first scientific study of Leonardo’s earliest known drawing shows he added details to an earlier sketch, reports the AP . Director of the Uffizi Galleries, Eike Schmidt, says an initial microscopic examination of the 1473 “Landscape Drawing for Santa Maria della Neve” at a Florence restoration lab shows Leonardo worked…
Newser

Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals

January 8, 2019 |

Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate,’ Study Reveals

On Monday, Coinmetrics.io published a study looking at hashrate history of the most competitive BTC mining pools. The research from the open source cryptocurrency analytics site reveals interesting insights into how the mining ecosystem has evolved over time.

Also read: Connecticut Software Engineering School Receives $ 10,000 BTC Donation

‘Major Mining Pools Are Fallible’

Cryptocurrency mining is a very competitive industry that has grown significantly in recent years. The processing power of all the SHA-256 algorithm-based coins is more powerful than the world’s supercomputers combined, and individuals and businesses have sunk billions into the mining industry. On Jan. 7 Coinmetrics.io released some interesting research concerning the mining pools processing thousands of BTC blocks over the years. The research team at Coinmetrics explained that the analysis was in response to an Ark Invest issue published last year which lightly touched upon the mining industry and hashrate distribution.

Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals
Nic Carter, cofounder of CoinMetrics.io, tweets about the new study “Granular mining pool mapping with Bitcoin’s coinbase outputs.”

The authors state that the data used in the Coinmetrics report stems from well-known sources like BTC.com and Bitcoinity, but the team also parsed the coinbase outputs from the last 450,000 BTC blocks. These days, most mining pools use the coinbase parameter to identify themselves when a block is mined on the blockchain. Coinmetrics explains the habit is completely voluntary and in the early days, miners did not identify themselves in this manner. Due to this factor, Coinmetrics skipped the first 100,000 blocks when parsing the chain. After sifting through the particulars, the researchers were able to identify 37 individual mining pools or large solo miners. The statistics suggest that these bitcoin miners mined at least 0.1% of the blocks in the period.

“The striking conclusion from the all-time chart is just how fallible major mining pools are: several influential pools which once controlled significant fractions of Bitcoin’s hashrate – BTC Guild, Ghash, BTCC – are now totally defunct,” the report emphasizes.

Coinmetrics continues by stating:    

Indeed, few pools seem to be truly persistent, F2pool and Slushpool being notable exceptions.

Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals
Labeled chart of major mining pools. “37 individual mining pools / large solo miners which mined at least 0.1% of the blocks in the period, and 11 additional identifiable entities which we excluded due to not meeting that threshold (they were aggregated into ‘other known’),” the study details. 

The Rise of Unknown Miners in 2018 and a Shrinking Reward Distribution

One notable aspect from the report is that there’s been a significant rise of “unknown miners” or operators choosing not to identify themselves in 2018. There could be a variety of reasons why there’s been a spike of unknown miners, such as for privacy and political reasons. The Coinmetrics research also details that operations like F2pool have seen a significant drop in hashrate and Antpool’s slice of the pie has “moderately declined.” BTCC and BW.com have closed operations and Bitfury’s hashrate has dropped as well. Both F2pool and Antpool have dominated with roughly 83,000 blocks combined, but to this day BTC Guild still holds the most captured BTC by pool. This factor is due to the block rewards shrinking, as pools could amass a lot of coins if they had a sizable amount of hashrate back in the day.

Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals
BTC Guild was able to accumulate the most BTC during its tenure mining due to the early block rewards being much larger.

Most veteran bitcoiners will remember the old mining pool giants of the past mentioned in the Coinmetrics report. Back then there were plenty of BTC Guild memes and proponents begging individual miners to stop mining with the pool when it gathered 48 percent of the network’s hashrate five years ago. The same thing happened a year later with Ghash when the community was up in arms after the pool gathered more than 51% of the network multiple times in June 2014. Researchers Ittay Eyal and Emin Gün Sirer from the publication Hacking, Distributed explained the situation in great detail at the time and stated:

Actually, it became a 55% miner for almost a day. And prior to that, it seems to have tested the waters over a period of 10 days or so, perhaps gauging the public’s reaction.

Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals
BTC Guild in 2013. The mining pool caused a lot of debate at the time. 

One factor not mentioned in the Coinmetrics report is the hashrate variations that have stemmed from Bitcoin forks. A lot has changed in the last two years and since August 2017 there’s been some variance of miners switching between the BTC and BCH hashrate as well.

Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals
The red lines represent deep variances between the BTC and BCH hashrate from Aug. 1, 2017, to December 2017 and then the 2018 BCH hard fork as well. This data stems from the analytics website Coin Dance. 

Because many mining pools like Antpool, Viabtc, F2pool, and BTC.com mine both chains, there was a notable divergence between the two chains’ mining profitability up until December 2017. Spectators also noted a slight deviation of pools switching hash during the BCH hashwars that started on Nov. 15 last year. The Coinmetrics analysis concludes by saying that there are a lot more stories in the data they scraped and they have “only begun to scratch the surface.”

What do you think about the recently published Coinmetrics report on mining pools? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.


Image credits: Coinmetrics.io, Coin Dance, and Shutterstock.


Have you seen our widget service? It allows anyone to embed informative Bitcoin.com widgets on their website. They’re pretty cool, and you can customize by size and color. The widgets include price-only, price and graph, price and news, and forum threads. There’s also a widget dedicated to our mining pool, displaying our hash power.

The post Major Mining Pools Have a ‘High Die-Off Rate’ Study Reveals appeared first on Bitcoin News.

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