Saturday, June 3, 2023

F2Pool co-founder Chun Wang has responded to allegations that his mining pool has been manipulating Ethereum block timestamps to “receive persistently increased mining rewards.”

The allegations got here from an Aug. 5 paper from researchers at The Hebrew College, claiming the mining pool has been participating in a “consensus-level” assault on Ethereum during the last two years to achieve an edge over “sincere” miners.  


Nonetheless, Wang on Twitter responded by saying that “we respect the *consensus* as is”, implying that deliberately exploiting the system’s guidelines doesn’t essentially imply that guidelines have been damaged.

Earlier this week, the researchers shared what they declare has been the primary proof of a “consensus-level assault” on Ethereum, by which miners akin to F2Pool have discovered a method to manipulate block timestamps to persistently get increased mining rewards in comparison with mining “truthfully.”

The research paper was penned by cryptocurrency lecturer Aviv Yaish, software program algorithm developer Gilad Stern, and pc scientist Aviv Zohar, alleging that Ethereum mining pool F2Pool has been one of many miners which were utilizing this timestamp manipulation technique.

“Though most mining swimming pools produce comparatively inconspicuous-looking blocks, F2Pool blatantly disregards the principles and makes use of false timestamps for its blocks,” stated Yaish, including that the mining pool has been executing the assault during the last two years.

Wang additionally appeared to come clean with proof offered by Yaish, suggestin that the timestamp manipulation was being finished deliberately. 

F2Pool is a geographically distributed mining pool, which largely mines blocks on the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin networks. 

How the ‘assault’ works

In keeping with the researchers, Ethereum’s present proof-of-work (POW) consensus legal guidelines embody a vulnerability that offers miners a “sure diploma of freedom” when setting timestamps, which signifies that false timestamps may be created.

“For instance, a miner can begin mining a block now, however set the block’s timestamp to truly be 5 seconds prior to now, or 10 seconds sooner or later. So long as this timestamp is inside a sure affordable sure, the block will nonetheless be thought of legitimate, in response to Ethereum’s consensus legal guidelines.”

The flexibility to create these false timestamps offers these miners an edge in a “tie-breaking” state of affairs as a miner can exchange one other miner’s blocks of the identical block top by making the timestamp low sufficient to extend the block’s mining problem.

Associated: Ethereum Merge: How will the PoS transition affect the ETH ecosystem?

Nonetheless, the researchers additionally famous that the vulnerability could also be solved after Ethereum transitions to proof-of-stake (POS) after the upcoming Merge on Sep. 19, which makes use of a unique set of consensus guidelines.

“An apparent mitigation approach which can clear up each this assault and another PoW-related one, is emigrate Ethereum’s consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake (PoS).”

“Different options which is perhaps smaller in scope and thus simpler to implement are to undertake higher fork-choosing guidelines, use dependable timestamps, or keep away from utilizing timestamps for problem changes altogether,” the researchers added. 

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