Spoilers for the trailer of Silicon Valley ’s season finale.
This Night ’s Silicon Valley season finale is titled “Fifty-One P.c,” and in step with the trailer for the episode, it includes a loopy twist centered on what ’s called a 51 p.c attack. this is when an arranged workforce of cryptocurrency miners achieve a majority on a blockchain community, which allows them to carry the network hostage and disrupt it in quite a lot of tactics. on the show, Pied Piper ’s enemies start becoming a member of the blockchain community until they achieve a FIFTY ONE percent consensus, which supplies them the ability to “delete all of our customers, all of our developer apps, crash our coin. this may be the tip of Pied Piper,” explains Dinesh.
The 51 % attack does exist in the actual international and has been deployed against smaller coins like Krypton and Shift, which can be clones of the more common cryptocurrency Ethereum. Both had been attacked by the similar crew, which calls itself the 51 Workforce. Once the crowd held a majority of each cash, it then despatched their creators a ransom notice, declaring that critical damage would occur to Krypton and Shift if they weren ’t paid. this is an actual danger; a bunch of coin miners that keep an eye on more than 50 p.c of the network can wreak havoc via stopping payments among users, or opposite certain finished transactions, so that it will look as in the event that they still had the coins they spent.
For smaller coins in particular, rewriting transactions on the public ledger can also be destructive as it ruins the legitimacy of all transactions — one thing that would rather well kill the coin. It ’s an issue that doesn ’t have an exact solution as a result of such miners are taking good thing about the decentralized approach the community is constructed.
But Cornell cryptographer Emin Gün Sirer tells The Verge that FIFTY ONE percent attacks can ’t do fairly as a lot damage because the Silicon Valley episode indicates. At The Same Time As messing with a coin like this may crash it, it wouldn ’t allow attackers to “delete all of our users, all of our developer apps” as Dinesh suggests.
“Miners at FIFTY ONE p.c or more have so much of powers, however they do not have the ability to change the actual regulations of the device, nor can they usurp budget,” Sirer explains, “they may be able to rewrite the existing blockchain in a limited style: they can not introduce transactions that don ’t already exist, they are able to fail to remember any transaction that they want, they usually definitely can not amendment any of the prevailing rules.”
Sirer means that the exaggerated energy attributed to the assault are just a little bit of dramatic license. “Every So Often, for an excellent screenplay, Hollywood will take liberties with the technical information at the flooring. i feel we’ve considered one of the ones eventualities right here.” Silicon Valley has a long history of raising actual problems in the tech group, though every so often exaggerated for effect. Final week, its penultimate episode highlighted excellent issues approximately Bitcoin, and even even though this week ’s episode is somewhat less correct, it nonetheless issues out a vital fear. The 51 percent assault isn ’t extraordinarily smartly-known outside of the cryptocurrency researcher neighborhood and it does recommend a potentially critical flaw in completely decentralized networks. for individuals trying to do industry on those blockchains, it ’s a problem value acknowledging.