Less Bugs in Bitcoin

There have been worrying news stories hitting the crypto headlines this week, such as hackers stealing $59 million worth of cryptocurrencies from Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Zaif. So, it’s understandable that crypto developers are working hard behind the scenes to fix any security issues. One such example is Bitcoin Core, deemed as the most hackproof and secure blockchain.

An important element of the Bitcoin Network, Bitcoin Core is a free open-source software which has been programmed to identify which blockchain has valid transactions correctly. The users of Bitcoin Core only accept transactions for that blockchain, making it the Bitcoin blockchain of choice for many users. These users run their own Bitcoin full nodes which follow a set of rules to determine which blockchain is valid or not before verifying payments via the Bitcoin Wallet.

This shared agreement or ‘consensus’ as it is known allows users only to accept valid Bitcoins, keeping them safe from even the most powerful miners. This service not only enhances the decentralisation of Bitcoin, but it also gives people more security for their coins, with added privacy settings which are exclusive to Bitcoin wallets which can be used to store, send and receive Bitcoins, not to mention a raft of useful user interfaces and other brilliant features.

However, even Bitcoin Core is not immune to security threats, and the company recently released a news update after detecting a vulnerability in the software. The Bitcoin Core Project issued a press release on Tuesday, September 18 to announce that it has released Bitcoin Core 0.16.3 which features a fix for a denial-of-service (DoS) vulnerability.

According to the release, the vulnerability could inevitably cause a crash of older versions of Bitcoin Core if they attempted processing a block transaction that tries to spend the same amount twice.

A miner can only create blocks such as these since they are invalid. In order to create such block, a miner would be required to burn a block of “at least” 12.5 Bitcoin (BTC) worth about $80,000 as of at press time. The new update includes a feature that eliminates a potential crash by enabling the software to “quietly reject” invalid blocks created by miners. Bitcoin Core version 0.16.3 is now available for download and the company highly recommends users of all affected versions immediately upgrade to 0.16.3 0.16.3 as soon as possible.

The press release states that Security issue CVE-2018-17144 discovered that older versions of Bitcoin Core will crash if they try to process a block containing a transaction that attempts to spend the same input twice. Such blocks are invalid, so they can only be created by a miner willing to sacrifice their allowed income for creating a block of at least 12.5 BTC (about USD 80,000 as of this writing). This release eliminates the crash, allowing the software to reject such invalid blocks quietly.

According to university experts, there are many unscrupulous people out there who have the motivation to crash the entire network. Indeed, Cobra Bitcoin, the co-owner of Bitcoin.org, described the recent problem in Bitcoin Core as a “very scary bug” that could have affected a “huge chunk of the Bitcoin network.”

By Joy Lewis.