Ethereum Merge and Security

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Security expert: Ethereum Merge makes the network more open to attack

Ethereum Merge and Security
Ethereum Merge and Security / Image Credit: CRYPKYP
1662969699 12 Sep / 08:01

Despite claims that the Ethereum Merge is a significant advance to the blockchain network, its switch to proof-of-stake makes it theoretically more exploitable.

The security researcher stated to Cointelegraph that, in contrast to proof-of-work (PoW) systems, proof-of-stake (PoS) systems disclose node validators in advance, which blocks they will verify, allowing them to organize attacks.

The security expert requested anonymity and is a proof-of-stake layer-2 blockchain engineer and researcher. The researcher noted that an attack might conceivably occur on the Ethereum blockchain after the Merge if validators successfully validate two consecutive blocks.

“If you control two consecutive blocks, you can begin an exploit on block N and complete it on block N+1 without any arbitrage bots fixing the price you altered in between.”

“From the perspective of economic security, [this vulnerability] makes these assaults comparatively easy to execute.”

It is also conceivable for miners to verify successive blocks in PoW networks, according to the expert, but this requires “pure chance” and provides the miner no time to plot an assault.

Consequently, the security researcher claims that Ethereum will lose some security strength when the Merge goes into effect:

“As it stands, Ethereum proof-of-work has higher security […] and economic assurances than Ethereum proof-of-stake.”

“However, despite this, […] proof-of-stake [still] provides sufficient practical security, and the fact that it is theoretically less safe than proof-of-work is irrelevant. The system is extremely safe,” he continued.

The security expert continued, “Ethereum is in the process of addressing [the consecutive block problem].”

It is a difficult challenge to solve, but if it is, proof-of-stake security will rise since they will be protected from certain attack routes.

Ethereum validators are liable to slashing in Proof-of-Stake since the consensus rules incentivize validators to verify incoming transactions correctly. Any behavior to the contrary would result in cutting their ETH stake.

The Ethereum Merge will occur on September 15 at about 2:30 a.m. UTC, according to Blocknative’s Ethereum Merge Countdown. The shift to PoS is expected to increase the scalability and energy efficiency of the Ethereum network.

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