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Bitcoin Bug Software The Almighty Buck

Bitcoin Snafu Causes Miners To Generate Invalid Blocks 179

An anonymous reader writes: A notice at bitcoin.org warns users of the cryptocurrency that many miners are currently generating invalid blocks. The cause seems to be out-of-date software, and software that assumed blocks were valid instead of checking them. They explain further "For several months, an increasing amount of mining hash rate has been signaling its intent to begin enforcing BIP66 strict DER signatures. As part of the BIP66 rules, once 950 of the last 1,000 blocks were version 3 (v3) blocks, all upgraded miners would reject version 2 (v2) blocks. Early morning UTC on 4 July 2015, the 950/1000 (95%) threshold was reached. Shortly thereafter, a small miner (part of the non-upgraded 5%) mined an invalid block--as was an expected occurrence. Unfortunately, it turned out that roughly half the network hash rate was mining without fully validating blocks (called SPV mining), and built new blocks on top of that invalid block. Note that the roughly 50% of the network that was SPV mining had explicitly indicated that they would enforce the BIP66 rules. By not doing so, several large miners have lost over $50,000 dollars worth of mining income so far."
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Bitcoin Snafu Causes Miners To Generate Invalid Blocks

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  • by deego ( 587575 ) on Saturday July 04, 2015 @10:37PM (#50046383)
    Post should have clarified, lest it send the wrong message to those not familiar:

    "This did not compromise the bitcoin protocol or network or anything like that."

    The main gist of the story really is simply: Some who took (incorrect) shortcuts paid the price for it by foregoing some profits.

    • by timholman ( 71886 ) on Saturday July 04, 2015 @11:03PM (#50046471)

      Post should have clarified, lest it send the wrong message to those not familiar:
      "This did not compromise the bitcoin protocol or network or anything like that."

      On the bitcoin.org website: "WARNING: many wallets currently vulnerable to double-spending of confirmed transactions."

      Offhand, I'd consider that a significant "compromise", given that vulnerability to double-spending dramatically undermines confidence in using Bitcoin. If this situation continues for any length of time, you can just about guarantee that the bad guys will begin to exploit it.

      • Are they vulnerable to double spending attacks for the indefinitely future because of one bad block or was it just during the block's formation? And the way I understand it, the mining pool that solved the block would have to be the one injecting the malicious data itself since the old method of block validation is good enough to prevent double spend attacks but I could easily be wrong about that.
        • AIUI we have a situation where some miners are enforcing stricter rules than others.

          If the strict miners significantly out mine the loose ones then not much will happen. The blocks that don't pass the strict rules will quickly be forked off and die and noone sensible accepts a one-block-confirmed transaction for anything important.

          However if the loose miners out mine the strict miners you get a long lasting fork between the strict and loose miners. People whose clients only enforce the loose rules will see

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      The whole thing is just a sneeze away from being compromised to the point of uselessness.
  • Shocked (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Saturday July 04, 2015 @10:57PM (#50046449) Journal

    You mean the money they just created out of thin air isn't really real?

    Stop the presses.

    • Re:Shocked (Score:5, Insightful)

      by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Saturday July 04, 2015 @11:18PM (#50046527) Homepage Journal

      Most money is created out of thin air (by adjusting the percentage of deposited money banks are required to keep).

      • Most money is created out of thin air (by adjusting the percentage of deposited money banks are required to keep).

        Um, maybe you mean "value".

        Pro-tip: people who wear dead men's shoes sometimes use satire.

    • Money isn't, value is.

    • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

      You mean the money they just created out of thin air isn't really real?

      That's usually a pretty funny bitcoin comment, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the situation in this case.

  • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Saturday July 04, 2015 @10:57PM (#50046451)

    The irony is that just a few stories down, there is a lot of talk about why more people don't drive EVs and how important it is for the world to get off fossil fuels.

    So... how much power generated by fossil fuels was consumed "mining" bitcoins last month?

    I can't think of anything less "green" than a computer pulling hundreds of watts sitting around 24/7 chewing on random numbers.

    • So... how much power generated by fossil fuels was consumed "mining" bitcoins last month?

      Very close to zero. Bitcoins are mined where power is cheapest, which means where there is plenty of hydropower, like in Iceland and the US Pacific Northwest. It is not cost effective to mine bitcoins using electricity from FFs.

      • My power comes from coal and natural gas and costs less than 11 cents per kWh.

        Are you suggesting that is too expensive to mine with?

        Are you suggesting that no one outside of those areas are mining Bitcoin?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          My power comes from coal and natural gas and costs less than 11 cents per kWh.

          Are you suggesting that is too expensive to mine with?

          Yes. That is about twice the price of wholesale hydropower.

          Are you suggesting that no one outside of those areas are mining Bitcoin?

          There are a few small miners outside these areas, but the big ASIC miners are located in areas where cheap hydropower is available.

          • There are a few small miners outside these areas, but the big ASIC miners are located in areas where cheap hydropower is available.

            And there is no better use for this power besides running computers 24/7?

            Your replies miss the point I'm afraid...

            • by Demena ( 966987 )
              It is Iceland. Producing needed heat is not a waste. Free computation becomes a side effect.
              • Then consider those compute cycles could have been used for Folding@Home and actually helping humanity.

                • Then consider those compute cycles could have been used for Folding@Home and actually helping humanity.

                  Economics is already forcing some users to recycle the heat from ASIC's as space heaters and this demand will continue to grow. Additionally, the coinbase reward for mining is slowly being replaced by Tx fees which will continue to grow rapidly especially when sidechains and inter payment channels like the lightning network are scaffolded on top of Bitcoin to really scale bitcoin up from 4-7 transactions per second to over 100k tx per second. These proposals do not depend upon PoW (proof of work... but cert

                • Then consider those compute cycles could have been used for Folding@Home and actually helping humanity.

                  Ending large-scale war and dictatorships will be the most amazing thing to happen for humanity in the past six thousand years.

                  Yeah, folding proteins is also important.

      • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Sunday July 05, 2015 @12:48AM (#50046713)

        Very close to zero. Bitcoins are mined where power is cheapest, which means where there is plenty of hydropower, like in Iceland and the US Pacific Northwest. It is not cost effective to mine bitcoins using electricity from FFs.

        Bullshit. Give us one shred of evidence that this is happening. Anyone involved in bitcoin mining isn't one bit interested in environmental issues, and coal is still the cheapest form of energy.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        I thought the current plan was distributed malware so that somebody else paid for the power?
        • I thought the current plan was distributed malware so that somebody else paid for the power?

          You would need to run and manage a botnet of thousands of computers to generate as many hashes as a single ASIC. It just isn't worth it. Nearly all new bitcoins are mined on ASICs.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            Maybe this is out of date but that does seem to be exactly what was happening at one point:
            http://blog.malwarebytes.org/fraud-scam/2013/11/potentially-unwanted-miners-toolbar-peddlers-use-your-system-to-make-btc/
            As for thousands, why not? Botnets are huge these days.
            • Yes, that is out of date. It really isn't worth the botnet operators time to mine with CPU's and GPU's these days. They are better off holding the computer hostage with malware like crypto locker which encrypts their hard drive and demands ransom with Greendot cards and bitcoin.
    • by reanjr ( 588767 )

      Far less than the amount of power used to run the credit card networks.

      • Per transaction, or total?

        I'm willing to bet that a single Bitcoin costs a whole lot more to produce than a credit card transaction takes to process.

        Or to put it another way, if you were to replace the entire existing credit card system with Bitcoin, would it use more or less power than the current system?

        ---

        Or perhaps if you were to be honest about the whole thing... Even with Bitcoin, you still are using the existing system, since very few places take bitcoin and most that do convert it into dollars or e

        • Per transaction, or total?

          I'm willing to bet that a single Bitcoin costs a whole lot more to produce than a credit card transaction takes to process.

          Or to put it another way, if you were to replace the entire existing credit card system with Bitcoin, would it use more or less power than the current system?

          ---

          Or perhaps if you were to be honest about the whole thing... Even with Bitcoin, you still are using the existing system, since very few places take bitcoin and most that do convert it into dollars or euros right away.

          So you now have twice as many transactions, once for bitcoin, another for the "old guard" banking system.

          Fair point. There are some initial costs to upgrading fintech and creating a fairer form of currency that doesn't rob people with unexpected inflation, bail outs, and bail ins. Even if you prefer inflationary fiat currencies instead of dis-inflationary ones with a planned social contract owned openly by the users you should be grateful that this competition will at least temporarily keep governments and banks slightly more honest.

          • I'm not opposed to the idea of Bitcoin, or competing currencies.

            I'm just opposed to the idea that it consumes tons of power to run RNG and that it will be required to run for more than 100 years.

            The irony is that I get the need the reduce our consumption of Earth's resources. If we had magic fusion reactors and unlimited power, then I wouldn't care.

            But we don't. :)

            • Economics is already forcing some users to recycle the heat from ASIC's as space heaters and this demand will continue to grow. Additionally, the coinbase reward for mining is slowly being replaced by Tx fees which will continue to grow rapidly especially when sidechains and inter payment channels like the lightning network are scaffolded on top of Bitcoin to really scale bitcoin up from 4-7 transactions per second to over 100k tx per second. These proposals do not depend upon PoW (proof of work... but cert
            • Sorry for responding a second time as I didn't realize you were the same person. The bottom line is that you may have been misled into thinking that Proof of Work is the only security mechanism for bitcoin and it will scale indefinitely as an arms race wasting power. This is a fair concern to have but also one that is exaggerated because PoW is only one security mechanism and in the future 99% of transactions will be done either off the chain or through inter-payment channels where there won't be direct pay
    • I don't get your logic, because both EVs and computers use electricity. Are you saying that EVs get their electricity from green sources, and Bitcoins are mined with filthy old fossil-fuel power?

      Also, consider monetary systems where banknotes are hauled around in armoured trucks, vs. a computer network that accomplished the same with a fraction of the resources.

      In general, people should do more with computers/networks, instead of driving around to offices.

      • I don't get your logic

        Yea, clearly you're not alone there... that is what I find so amazing...

        If you don't get it, I don't know what else I can say. It is plain as day to me, if it isn't to you... well, I'm at a loss as to how to explain how pointless it is to run RNG for days/weeks/months for such a purpose...

      • I don't get your logic, because both EVs and computers use electricity. Are you saying that EVs get their electricity from green sources, and Bitcoins are mined with filthy old fossil-fuel power?

        Also, consider monetary systems where banknotes are hauled around in armoured trucks, vs. a computer network that accomplished the same with a fraction of the resources.

        In general, people should do more with computers/networks, instead of driving around to offices.

        FlyHelicopters isn't too bright. He's wrong a lot of the time, and every time somebody explains why he's wrong, as you did in your third and fourth sentences, he responds with shock that no one can understand why he's right. It's a rather childish defense mechanism, but he can't seem to help himself.

  • by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Saturday July 04, 2015 @10:59PM (#50046461) Journal
    Fifty thousand dollars dollars?

Somebody's terminal is dropping bits. I found a pile of them over in the corner.

Working...