In brief

  • Ethereum core developer Danny Ryan has issued a challenge to white hat hackers to break a pair of Eth2 testnets
  • Eth2 will coordinate tens of thousands of validators for the sake of true decentralization
  • Eth2 will dramatically increase transaction throughput.

Ethereum 2.0 testnets are squared up, offering $5,000 to any challenger who can break them.

The invitation came in a tweet from Ethereum core developer Danny Ryan, linking to a Github page outlining additional details and parameters for the challenge. The announcement comes as the Ethereum community clambers for any progress updates on the upgrade to Ethereum, as growing DeFi use cases drive gas fees through the roof and push the existing Ethereum architecture to the limit.

The targets of the “attacknets” are miniature-sized versions of the Lighthouse and Prysm Eth2 clients, two separate codebases designed to access the Ethereum 2.0 network. Unlike established Ethereum clients Geth and Parity, which have 7,500 nodes combined, these attacknets will be made up of just four nodes, making it easier to achieve the goal of preventing “finality.”

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Butierin described finality in a 2016 blog post as an operation that has been completed for good and can’t be reverted by system errors or outside intervention. Essentially, Eth2 developers are asking benevolent hackers to try to prevent blocks from being confirmed, theoretically allowing transactions to be reverted, double spend attacks, and other manipulative behaviors blockchain tech is designed to prevent.

Last month, Ryan published a State of the Eth2 blog post which explained the general timeline for the still-in-development Ethereum upgrade and some of the technical challenges that must be overcome to prepare for a full release. Significant effort has been targeted in developing methods for coordinating dozens or hundreds of thousands of validators, the decentralized hardware providers that power the Ethereum network and will be eligible for rewards by staking at least 32 ETH.

While some existing blockchains have hundreds or thousands of validators, Eth2 is designed to maintain decentralization by using at least 16,000 validators initially, increasing to hundreds of thousands over the course of a few years following the upgrade release. 

Validators will be coordinated into shards by communicating with the Ethereum “beacon chain”—described by developers as the “spine” or “heartbeat” of the new network—which is tasked with assigning transactions to different “shards,” or smaller break-away blockchains.

The addition of the beacon chain and shards (referred to as sharding) will be the foundation for the anticipated increase for transaction throughput in Eth2, rising from around 15 transactions per second currently to more than 1,000 transactions per second after the upgrade.

Eth2 has long been in development, and the Ethereum network is currently being pushed to its technical limits as the booming DeFi sector drives transaction volumes upward, potentially slowing the network down.

Will the upgrade arrive in time, or will prolonged congestion on Ethereum open the door for alternative protocols to popularize their own DeFi applications?

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.