F2Pool co-founder responds to allegations it’s cheating the Ethereum POW system

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F2Pool co-founder Chun Wang has responded to allegations that his mining pool has been manipulating Ethereum block timestamps to “get hold of persistently increased mining rewards.”

The allegations got here from an Aug. 5 paper from researchers at The Hebrew College, claiming the mining pool has been participating in a “consensus-level” assault on Ethereum during the last two years to realize an edge over “trustworthy” miners.  

Nonetheless, Wang on Twitter responded by saying that “we respect the *consensus* as is”, implying that deliberately exploiting the system’s guidelines doesn’t essentially imply that guidelines have been damaged.

Earlier this week, the researchers shared what they declare has been the primary proof of a “consensus-level assault” on Ethereum, by which miners resembling F2Pool have discovered a strategy to manipulate block timestamps to persistently get increased mining rewards in comparison with mining “actually.”

The research paper was penned by cryptocurrency lecturer Aviv Yaish, software program algorithm developer Gilad Stern, and pc scientist Aviv Zohar, alleging that Ethereum mining pool F2Pool has been one of many miners which have been utilizing this timestamp manipulation technique.

“Though most mining swimming pools produce comparatively inconspicuous-looking blocks, F2Pool blatantly disregards the principles and makes use of false timestamps for its blocks,” mentioned Yaish, including that the mining pool has been executing the assault during the last two years.

Wang additionally appeared to come clean with proof offered by Yaish, suggestin that the timestamp manipulation was being completed deliberately. 

F2Pool is a geographically distributed mining pool, which principally mines blocks on the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin networks. 

How the ‘assault’ works

In keeping with the researchers, Ethereum’s present proof-of-work (POW) consensus legal guidelines embrace a vulnerability that offers miners a “sure diploma of freedom” when setting timestamps, which signifies that false timestamps will be created.

“For instance, a miner can begin mining a block now, however set the block’s timestamp to really be 5 seconds prior to now, or 10 seconds sooner or later. So long as this timestamp is inside a sure cheap sure, the block will nonetheless be thought-about legitimate, based on Ethereum’s consensus legal guidelines.”

The power to create these false timestamps offers these miners an edge in a “tie-breaking” state of affairs as a miner can substitute one other miner’s blocks of the identical block top by making the timestamp low sufficient to extend the block’s mining issue.

Associated: Ethereum Merge: How will the PoS transition impact the ETH ecosystem?

Nonetheless, the researchers additionally famous that the vulnerability could also be solved after Ethereum transitions to proof-of-stake (POS) after the upcoming Merge on Sep. 19, which makes use of a unique set of consensus guidelines.

“An apparent mitigation method which is able to resolve each this assault and every other PoW-related one, is emigrate Ethereum’s consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake (PoS).”

“Different options which is likely to be smaller in scope and thus simpler to implement are to undertake higher fork-choosing guidelines, use dependable timestamps, or keep away from utilizing timestamps for issue changes altogether,” the researchers added.