Ethereum Classic (ETC), which is listed on Coinbase and ranked number 17 on CoinMarketCap with a market cap near $550 million, has been hit with a 51 percent attack. The attack appears to have occurred from 9 p.m. Jan. 6 to just after midnight on Jan. 7 and resulted in a blockchain reorganization hundreds of blocks deep. This news is just breaking now, and ETC’s price is down 7 percent, shaving $40 million off its market cap.
The number of double spends during this 51 percent attack, if any, is unknown at this time. It is recommended to wait for 400 plus confirmations before accepting any Ethereum Classic (ETC) transaction.
This 51 percent attack on Ethereum Classic comes a little over a month after the dev team which maintained the main ETC client walked out due to lack of funding.
There is no obvious linkage between the primary dev team walking out and this 51 percent attack; however, Ethereum Classic (ETC) appears to be in dire straits. A 51 percent attack is enough to ruin the reputation of any cryptocurrency since it makes users lose confidence that a cryptocurrency is immutable and secure. The primary dev team walking out around the same time adds insult to injury.
Community Outcry For ProgPoW To Block ASICs
Ethereum’s (ETH) Constantinople hard fork is scheduled to occur in about a week, and one of the key points of contention during the fork is that mining rewards will be slashed from three Ether to two. Also, the Ethereum developers are considering including ProgPoW in the fork, which would block ASIC miners.
It seems this 51 percent attack on Ethereum Classic is being used as justification to implement ProgPoW for both Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). The 51 percent attack is being blamed on new 1.4 GH/s ASIC ETHash rigs although this is just speculation and not confirmed.
Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC) users are crying out for an immediate block of ASIC miners, saying this 51 percent attack is proof that blocking ASICs with ProgPoW is urgent.
The timing of this 51 percent attack on Ethereum Classic (ETC), a week before the Ethereum (ETH) Constantinople hard fork, is interesting. There is still enough time to block ASIC miners by including ProgPoW in the fork if there is a big enough outcry from the community.
Ethereum (ETH) miners are left in a poor situation. Not only are block rewards being slashed, but ASICs also may be blocked with ProgPoW due to this 51 percent attack on Ethereum Classic (ETH). Now, Ethereum (ETH) miners who use ASICs have no good mining alternative since Ethereum Classic (ETC) was probably the best alternative in the event that Ethereum (ETH) blocks ASICs. It seems probable that Ethereum Classic (ETC) will implement ProgPoW as well, so it will no longer be an alternative for ASIC miners.
CryptoIQ speculated about 1 month ago that the Ethereum Constantinople hard fork could lead to a new version of Ethereum that is favorable for miners, possibly resulting in a similar situation to the “Bitcoin Cash War” in November 2018. The increased pressure to block ASICs following the Ethereum Classic (ETC) 51 percent attack combined with ETC likely implementing ProgPoW as well perhaps increases the likelihood that a completely new version of Ethereum will form when Constantinople arrives.