Many have speculated on possible ways to create a fortune out of thin air by hacking Bitcoin transactions. But all those thoughtful efforts have been in vain. In fact, the white paper of Bitcoin already showed the keys to prevent a hacker (or any type of attacker) from stealing cryptocurrencies through changes in the transaction history .
Thirteen years after the publication of the white paper of Bitcoin, the lessons on how difficult it would be to scam the network are still valid. What’s more, with every day that passes and the network of Bitcoin miners grows, the simple idea of hacking the system becomes more and more absurd.
In the Bitcoin white paper , Satoshi Nakamoto does not rule out the possibility that there are attackers who want to defraud the system. There is always someone greedy who wants the biggest piece of the pie.
In fact, in 2009, Bitcoin was a network that connected only a handful of computers (and it was not worth not a few pennies). When the Bitcoin consensus rules were written, even a simple computer sneeze from a hacker could have been a problem.
But those rules held the key to making people put their effort, and their computers, at the service of a common goal. The more valuable bitcoin (BTC) becomes, the more secure the network becomes.
I’ll show you why Bitcoin’s rigorous security system can turn out to be a cruel headache for anyone attempting a network hack.
The rules of the Bitcoin game break illusions attackers
A greedy hacker wouldn’t make more money from fraud or a transaction exchange than honestly mining Bitcoin. The miners network is designed in such a way that an attacker would find it very costly to remake the blockchain “in secret” via proof of work, the ingenious solution that avoids double spending on Bitcoin as it rewards miners for your participation.
The incentive can help encourage nodes to stay honest. If a greedy attacker is capable of assembling more CPUs than all the honest nodes, he would have to choose between using it to defraud people by stealing back their payments, or using it to generate new coins. He should find it more profitable to play by the rules, rules such that he favors newer currencies (…) than undermining the system and the validity of his own wealth.
Bitcoin White paper.
This means that a hacker would need a lot of computers or Bitcoin miners to create the conditions that allow to deceive most of the miners that currently work on the network. For example, through a 51% attack to censor others’ transactions or reverse the attacker’s own transactions, creating double spending.
Only one State could execute a 51% attack on Bitcoin
Hacking Bitcoin with such an attack would cost $ 2.2 million every hour , according to Crypto51. To give you an idea, you would have to have 1,273,000 ASIC Antminer S19 Pro at full capacity to compete against the entire network that is
According to Go Bitcoin, You need to invest USD 28,678 million in the purchase of mining equipment such as the Antminer S9 to hack Bitcoin today and your electricity cost, in the should that amount be found in the market
Of course, an attack of this magnitude would have immediate consequences on the markets. Whoever sets out on the insane undertaking of getting bitcoins this way would be acting against their own interests, because their p own cryptocurrency reserves would be devalued immediately.
Only a State could afford an attack of this magnitude, protected by the fact that only central banks could print money unrestrictedly without suffering – So much- for the cost. Who could be so motivated to destroy something with the awareness that they will lose more than they could gain?
Odds are against a Bitcoin hack
The chance that a hacker succeeds in deceiving the network of miners decreases as the history of blocks added by above the transactions you want to modify. Furthermore, a hacker could only secretly modify their own “recent” transactions, because the rest of the nodes would never accept a history of new transactions that did not match their own record on the blockchain.
Even so, this is so unlikely that Satoshi Nakamoto compared this delusional expectation to the statistical concept “gambler’s ruin.” A persistent bettor who starts playing a game with a deficit, even with “unlimited credit,” will eventually go bankrupt, no matter how many betting strategies he uses.
This means that an attacker who starts competing against Bitcoin miners is more likely to lose just because he starts mining blocks later.
It is as if I had lower capital when “starting your bet.” In the race to make your blockchain accepted as valid (including your manipulated transactions), you would be expected to have fewer opportunities to mine or validate the block of transactions that continues the chain.
Given the assumption that , the probability decreases exponentially as the number of blocks the attacker has to reach increases. With the odds stacked against him, if he doesn’t lunge forward at first, his chances get smaller and smaller as he falls behind.
Bitcoin White paper.
It doesn’t matter how hard I try. The odds of an attacker using Bitcoin software to secretly replicate a blockchain and eventually replace it with the public blockchain are slim.
In fact, in the Bitcoin white paper there is a mathematical demonstration of the progressive decline of the luck of someone who tried to hack Bitcoin in this way. To put it another way, Bitcoin’s white paper shows no compassion for anyone.
Who needs a hacker to steal bitcoins?
Maybe you are not one to think that all hackers, crackers or hackers are misunderstood beings or precocious geniuses who just want to destroy the world (and make a few million in the process) like Elliott Gunton, accused of having hacked TalkTalk and EtherDelta. And you’re right.
Some of these hackers (or crackers, which is a more accurate term for these dangerous computer scientists) have actually been very smart. Take Gary MacKinnon, for example, who managed to outwit the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA). So why bother spending billions on computers and electricity if you only need a computer and a cup of coffee? Right?
Some criminals, or would-be criminals, aspire to hit a more precise shot and avoid the big problems. Perhaps among these, there are those who believe that they can get a few extra bitcoins by doing two transactions with the same cryptocurrencies, fast enough so that no one notices.
However, Bitcoin is designed to prevent anyone from double spending , which is how this type of fraud is known. This anti-hacking system described in the Bitcoin White paper consists of creating a “timestamp” on each transaction. The goal is to have “a system for participants to agree on a unique history of the order in which [las transacciones] they were received”, as the White paper says.
Because the goal of the network is to keep as many copies of the transaction history as possible so that no one can change them, the security of Bitcoin is built on the cooperation. So whoever receives a transaction, only «needs proof that, at the time of each transaction , most of the nodes agreed that it was the first received ».
Okay, but It is possible to manipulate the code of the transactions right?
No, it is not possible. Every Bitcoin transaction uses an encryption algorithm known as Sha-256, which was designed by the NSA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and is a Cryptographic security standard used all over the world.
I’m not going to overwhelm you with the whole explanation, I promise. This method takes the information from each transaction and transforms it into a 256-bit or 64-character sequence, known as hash . This means that any letter and number information put into Bitcoin’s cryptographic “machine” becomes a unique item. This process has several functions.
On the one hand, generates Bitcoin addresses and the keys to identify the owner of those addresses. Of course, by having those unique keys (the private keys), you can also prove that you own the cryptocurrencies stored there, and not just anyone who tries to randomly put keys into a Bitcoin wallet.
It is practically impossible to try to find someone’s private key by throwing numbers at random. In fact, it is so unlikely that if they made a quadrillion tries you would have a 0.681892% chance of finding it. If you had a million computers searching for a private Bitcoin address per second, it could take up to 30,000 years to find it. Good luck!
Also, this same algorithm is used for Bitcoin mining. Each block in the chain, which contains some 2,000 transactions on average, uses cryptography. Any change in a transaction alters the hash that the Miner uses to register and identify the block of information added to the network, so it is easy to know if someone changed something in a transaction (because a different hash is generated) and wants to sell cat for free.
Nothing is left to chance in Bitcoin
Although there are hypothetical conditions that might not be considered exactly hacking, Bitcoin is prepared to prevent someone from trying to take advantage. For example, if two miners add at the same time a block to the chain, and these blocks contain the same transactions, the only valid ones will be those that are disseminated through the network in less time.
From so that repeated transactions would start to be discarded by most nodes, before mining the next block. In other words, Bitcoin always chooses the longest chain or the one with the most proof of work as true, avoiding any double spending. It seems unlikely, but from time to time it happens that two blocks of transactions collide, as we reported in CriptoNoticias.
The economic cost of the hack, the odds against it, the level of The cryptographic processes that are in each transaction, and that prevent a single centralized entity from having the key to open all the doors, should be sufficiently dissuasive for any hacker, just as the rigorous white paper of Bitcoin.