The security of cryptocurrency ecosystems has been a challenge to most projects including the pioneer ‘Bitcoin’. Horizen, previously known as ZenCash by the crypto community recently released an update for the current BTC Proof-of-Work. The move by this private coin marked an era that might see crypto-related attacks reduce by over 50%.
At the moment, malicious crypto players have often leveraged the double spending concept to acquire illegal crypto proceeds. Basically, miners are able to beat the network by privately mining longer chains; this way they are able to revert already exchange confirmed transactions. Horizen’s upgrade will counter this situation by penalizing private chain mining hence increasing the costs & difficulty involved.
Bitcoin’s consensus algorithm had placed its trust on the honesty of mining participants, a concept that has proven to have some loopholes. This is mainly caused by miners whose interests do not align with those of BTC mining. Over time, crypto mining dynamics have been made less costlier & more accessible making it easy to pass by some consensus algorithms.
As it stands, the Proof-of-Work built blockchains have become economic friendly target for attacks.
However, this situation does not have to be permanent according to the Chief Engineer at Horizen, Alberto Garoffolo;
“The operating environment for cryptocurrency systems has changed significantly since 2009 when mining power was more decentralized. It’s now imperative for public blockchains to upgrade their consensus rules to protect against bad actors and we believe the release of our update will act as a resource to vastly improve security across the industry.”
Horizen’s advanced security features will ideally increase the financial costs one requires to leverage double spending in carrying out blockchain attacks .Besides a penalty for private chain mining, block reports that are delayed will also be penalized.
For private chains to be broadcasted on Horizen’s network, the honest mining participants have to confirm it has been penalized accordingly. Therefore, it is no secret that attackers will eventually require more resources to conduct their fraudulent activities.
According to Rob Viglione, the Horizen President & co-founder, this milestone is in line with modern developments in blockchain security;
“The update follows the original mission of Bitcoin to create a trusted, fair means for decentralized peer-to-peer payments — one that strongly resonates with Horizen’s vision. Our open-source contribution enhances protection against advanced attack methods and helps improve the security of the entire industry.”
The Horizen network (ZenCash) was a victim of a double spending attack back in Q2 of 2018. However, this was promptly addressed by executing migration processes which subsequently made such attempts very hard in future.
Back when ZenCash was attacked, its developing team was warned of a probable malicious activity by the network’s pool operators. It was then that they initiated an investigation for hash power evaluation while reaching out to exchanges for an increase in the number of confirmations.
The attackers were trying to double spend within the ZenCash platform according to the forensic analysis done. In this event, ZenCash lost close to $500 thousand although its team leader later dispelled the overstated misconceptions surrounding the attack’s information.