Ethereum Merge Makes Network More Vulnerable to Attacks — Security Expert

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Despite the Ethereum Merge being touted as a major upgrade to the blockchain network, the move to proof-of-stake theoretically makes it more vulnerable to abuse.

Speaking to TBEN, the security researcher explained that unlike proof-of-work (PoW) systems, a proof-of-stake (PoS) system informs node validators in advance which blocks they will validate, causing them to attack. can plan.

The security expert, who will not be named, is a blockchain developer and security researcher working on a proof-of-stake layer-2 blockchain.

The researcher explained that there could theoretically be an exploit on the post-Merge Ethereum blockchain if validators manage to line up two consecutive blocks to validate.

“If you manage two consecutive blocks, you can start an exploit on block N and finish it on block N+1 without an arbitrage bot coming in and fixing the price you manipulated in between.”

“From an economic security point of view, [this vulnerability] makes these attacks relatively easier to carry out.”

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The expert said that while it is also possible for miners to validate consecutive blocks in PoW networks, this is down to “pure luck” and does not give the miner time to plan an attack.

As a result, the security researcher states that Ethereum will lose some strength in security when the merge takes effect:

“As we stand now” [with] the Ethereum proof-of-work vs Ethereum proof-of-stake, Ethereum proof-of-work has stronger security […] and economic guarantees.”

“But that being said […] proof of commitment [still] has sufficient practical certainty [and] it doesn’t really matter that it’s theoretically not as secure as proof-of-work. It is still a very secure system,” he added.

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Related: Buterin and Armstrong Reflect on Proof-of-Stake Shift as Ethereum Merge Approaches

The security expert added that “Ethereum is working on fixation” [the consecutive block issue].

It’s a hard problem to solve, but if it’s done, proof-of-stake security will [further] increase [as] they will have protection against those attack vectors.”

Ethereum validators are subject to slashing in PoS as the consensus rules are designed to economically incentivize validators to properly validate incoming transactions and any contrary behavior would lower their ETH stake.

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The Ethereum Merge will finally take place on September 15 at approximately 2:30 am UTC, according to Blocknative’s Ethereum Merge Countdown. The move to PoS should make the Ethereum network more scalable and energy efficient.