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Ethereum’s Fourth Hard Fork, Criticisms on Security

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Ethereum has completed the execution of yet another hard fork. “Spurious Dragon” is the Ethereum network’s fourth hard fork to date and is expected to mitigate various DoS attacks targeting the network.

Technically, the hard fork was a success. Ethereum developers state that general technical problems have been addressed and it is presumed to prevent more attacks on the Ethereum network for the foreseeable future.

Leading bitcoin exchanges supported the execution of Spurious Dragon, temporarily disabling Ethereum and ETH-based assets for the duration of the hard fork. ShapeShift and Korbit amongst many other exchanges and trading platforms addressed the hard fork.

However, in spite of the successful execution of the hard fork, developers, experts and users began to criticize the Ethereum network for weak security measures and network instability.

Chris Ellis, founder of bitcoin peer-to-peer tipping platform ProTip, noted that since the DAO, the Ethereum network has not been able to reliably host useful applications due to various issues with security.

Furthermore, several Ethereum developers have terminated their projects and applications as well, after discovering that certain technical aspects of the network could make the application prone to various attacks.

For example, the Velocity development team stated:

“Even if we attempt to decentralize this component, we will be prone to attacks and data will never be real time, there will be at least a delay of 10 seconds and this is a huge attack vector. This problem cannot be solved without the platform evolving to the point where required data is available natively inside the Ethereum blockchain itself." 

 

The team at Velocity also stated, while they reckon that the future of Ethereum is bright, introducing financial derivatives at this stage seems to be a bit premature for the ecosystem.

Within the past five months, the Ethereum development team have completed the execution of four hard forks, beginning with the DAO hard fork on July 20, 2016. Although each hard fork addressed different issues including memory bugs and external attacks, DoS attacks on the network were one of the major factors that pressured the Ethereum development team to introduce an urgent fix.

The latest hard fork addressed the same issue the Ethereum network has been dealing with for months. DoS attacks have been mitigated and transaction delays have been solved, enhancing the functionality and flexibility of the Ethereum network.

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Hudson Jameson, Ethereum developer and communication officer, released an official announcement on November 20, explicitly describing specific changes and network alterations the hard fork will bring. These changes included; replay attack protection, EXP cost increase, and changes to the maximum code size of contracts.

“Spurious Dragon is the second hard fork of the two-round hard fork response to the DoS attacks on the Ethereum network in September and October. [Spurious Dragon] addresses important but less pressing matters such as further tuning opcode pricing to prevent future attacks on the network, enabling “debloat” of the blockchain state, and adding replay attack protection."

 

In all, the hard fork is presumed to bring improved stability and reduced transactional delays for both users and developers. Because decentralized applications on the Ethereum network struggled to settle contracts and transact payments, the execution of the hard fork was the priority of the Ethereum development team.

Still, developers and experts believe that the fourth hard fork is not sufficient enough for the recovery of Ethereum and to allow the network to demonstrate resilience toward attack. Several experts criticized the fact that the Ethereum development team forced exchanges to update their platform four times over the past five months, which BTCC COO Samson Mow emphasized in an interview with BTCManager earlier this month.

Mow stated that if the Ethereum development team continues to put this burden and pressure on developers and exchanges, the merit of its network will decline.

“I would be more worried about exchanges than developers getting tired of the major changes. Developers for Ethereum should be more tolerant having to update but for an exchange, the constant updates, often with little notice, are very problematic,” Mow said.

Some respected cryptographers and companies, including ShapeShift and its CEO Erik Voorhees, expressed their concerns toward the cryptocurrency community dismissing Ethereum due to short-term issues.

The markets have taken the latest hard fork positively so far, whereby ETH-USD posted a fresh, one-week high at $10.30 on the day of the protocol update. So far on November 23, buyers are suggested to be in control; sellers managed to push the market as low as $9.70 but since then, ether has increased to $9.82 at the time of writing, illustrated below.

ether-image

 

Will ETH-USD continue to make gains in response to the latest update or will concerns about the network see the cryptocurrency remain subdued below $10? Let us know your thoughts below.