Overview of What’s New in Ethereum 2.0

ethereum_2

Ethereum is by far the most popular launching pad for decentralized applications. Ethereum gives you the tools you need to mint your own cryptocurrency, it provides a programming language and environment.

Ethereum is powered by Ether, which is the second most widely known cryptocurrency. The Ethereum project is backed heavily by the community and is being actively developed as we speak.

https://youtu.be/unhpWpdfAgU

Ethereum 2.0 has been discussed and developed since 2018 and the first phase is proposed to roll out at the end of 2019. I’m super excited about what Ethereum will bring in the future.

Ethereum Clients Release New Software In Wake of Hard Fork Delay

Major ethereum clients, including Go-Ethereum (Geth) and Parity, have released software updates following an earlier decision to delay the planned system-wide upgrade dubbed Constantinople. The upgrade was postponed Tuesday during a developers call, a move that came after blockchain audit firm Chain Security discovered a security vulnerability in Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1283, one of the planned changes included in Constantinople. If exploited, the bug would have allowed for “reentrance attacks,” allowing malicious actors to withdraw funds from the same source multiple times. A new activation block for the upgrade will be decided during another call later this week. In order to prevent the fork from happening – given that some of the software clients on the network had already been updated ahead of the fork – developers of the major ethereum implementations moved to publish new versions. Geth released an emergency hotfix (version 1.8.21) designed to delay the upgrade, though developer Péter Szilágyi noted that users who do not wish to upgrade to the new version of the client can also downgrade their existing clients to version 1.8.19 or continue running the current version (1.8.20) with an override. Parity clients can similarly either upgrade their existing clients to 2.2.7 (the stable release) or 2.3.0 (a beta release) or otherwise downgrade to 2.2.4 (beta). Parity Technologies head of security Kirill Pimenov, speaking in an ethereum core developers chat on Gitter, said he recommended users upgrade to the new release, rather than downgrade to an older version, explaining:
“I want to restate — downgrading Parity to pre-Constantinople versions is a bad idea, we don’t recommend that to anyone. Theoretically it should even work, but we don’t want to deal with that mess.”
Similarly, Parity release manager Afri Schoedon told CoinDesk that he recommends 2.2.7, though the other two should work as well. In a blog post, core developer Hudson Jameson wrote that anyone who does not run a node or otherwise participate in the network does not need to do anything. Smart contract owners do not need to do anything either, though “you may choose to examine the analysis of the potential vulnerability and check your contracts,” he wrote. However, he pointed out that the change that could introduce the potential issue will not be enabled. As of the blog post’s publication, security researchers with ChainSecurity, who initially discovered the bug, and TrailOfBits are analyzing the overall blockchain.

Reentrance attacks

So far, no instances of the vulnerability have been discovered in live contracts. However, Jameson noted that “there is still a non-zero risk that some contracts could be affected.” In order for transfers on ethereum to avoid reentrance attacks, a small amount of ether called gas is paid which prevents attackers from repurposing a transfer to steal funds. However, as explained to CoinDesk by Hubert Ritzdorf – the individual who found the vulnerability and CTO of Chain Security – a “side effect” of EIP 1283 ensures attackers can leverage this small amount of gas for malicious purposes. “The difference is before you couldn’t do something malicious with this little bit of gas, you could do something useful but not something malicious and now because some of the operations became cheaper, now you can do something malicious with this little bit of gas,” said Ritzdorf. And though the issue of reentrancy is always on the minds of smart contract developers coding in Solidity on ethereum, Matthias Egli – COO of Chain Security – explained that core developers strictly looking at the mechanics of the virtual machine couldn’t have easily spotted this vulnerability. He told CoinDesk:
“It’s a Solidity thing, it’s not an [ethereum virtual machine] core thing that in practice allowed this attack. That was part of this disconnect that in practice small changes to gas cost will allow new kind of attacks which wasn’t considered before.”
What’s more, Ritzdorf added that the fix to this issue isn’t as easy as updating ethereum’s gas cost limits, explaining that “if we change this amount to a small number now then we would fix the vulnerability but we would also break many existing [smart] contracts.” As such, for the time being, a delay to Constantinople was the right call by core developers according to Egli. “It was the right decision because it at least buys some time for researchers to evaluate the real world impact. With high likelihood, this [EIP] will be taken back and not included in the upcoming hard fork which is now delayed by perhaps a month,” he contended.

Next steps

As of press time, developers are contacting exchanges, wallets, mining pools and other groups which use or interact with the ethereum network. Core developers plan to discuss longer-term steps – including when to execute Constantinople and how to fix the bug in EIP 1283 – during another call on Jan. 18. Multiple developers suggested initiating some sort of bug bounty program focused on analyzing the code, in order to ensure future bugs are discovered well in advance, rather than “right before [hard fork] day.” Szilágyi noted that the EIP had been available for review for nearly a year, adding that “maybe it’s not a bad idea to do some grants for more focused eyes.” Code image via Shutterstock Source: www.coindesk.com

The ‘Thirdening’ Approaches: How to Watch Ethereum’s Fork as It Happens

The world’s third largest blockchain by total value, ethereum, is about to upgrade its code. Named Constantinople, the system-wide upgrade, or hard fork, is set to enact several tech improvements, most designed to increase usability and improve smart contract design, should users of the network decide to upgrade to the new software when it’s introduced this week. Already, excitement is gathering around the upgrade, with developers pointing to one particular update – named EIP 1014 or Skinny CREATE2 – as potentially paving way for new technical innovations. Still, statistics currently demonstrate that the adoption of Constantinople have been low to date. While developers say the metrics in question are not a fair representation of overall support, it’s worth keeping an eye that this doesn’t interfere with the upgrade. That’s because Constantinople is a kind of upgrade known as a hard fork. In such an upgrade, all nodes within the network, such as miners, exchanges, businesses and users storing full copies of the blockchain, have to update their software. If the platform’s stakeholders don’t update their software, this could lead to the creation of two incompatible blockchains. Cryptocurrencies such as ethereum classic and bitcoin cash were formed out of such an event. In order for such an outcome to occur, though, and for the split chain to persist, there must be some incentive for users to want to continue to run the older instance. In that regard, Constantinople is an upgrade that has seen widespread community support. One upgrade in particular – the removal of the difficulty bomb – is largely viewed as necessary for the continued health of the network and the operation of ethereum’s blockchain. Yet while largely non-contentious, Constantinople hasn’t been without its drama. Because it features a tweak to the platform’s economics – reducing the block reward from 3 ETH to 2 ETH per block – in its run-up, developers were forced to navigate the conflicting views of investors and miners, each grapplingfor a different outcome. Because of the change, Constantinople has also been nicknamed by some as “the thirdening,” a homage to bitcoin’s regular “halving” events, by which its software programmatically reduces the amount of new supply it introduces at intervals. As such, it’s worth watching the upgrade as it occurs.

Fork countdown

On ethereum, hard forks are triggered at a particular block number that has been hard-coded into the upgrade software. To participate in the upgrade, miners, exchanges, businesses and users running full nodes must download new software in advance, which will trigger the hard fork when a certain block number is reached. Constantinople is planned to activate at block number 7,080,000. However, because the time it takes to create blocks tends to fluctuate, establishing when exactly the hard fork is going to hit can be difficult. Still, there are a number of websites that measure the time it takes to produce blocks and try to estimate when the hard fork will occur. One such countdown is available on blockchain monitoring and analytics firm, Amber Data. According to the website, Constantinople is due to activate on Thursday at around 4:00 UTC. Another fork countdown website is data resource CoinGecko, that shows similar estimates to Amber Data – predicting the fork to activate at around 3:30 UTC Thursday. countdown timer by release manager for the Parity Ethereum client, Afri Schoedon, states Constantinople is due to activate on Thursday at around 3:09 UTC. Schoedon’s countdown has the broader function of tracking the growth of the ethereum blockchain. While there’s subtle differences between each prediction, according to him, this is due to how websites approach the calculation and is likely to reconcile as the block number approaches. “Mine uses a fixed-time average, so it will be more and more accurate the closer we get to the fork,” Schoedon said.

Fork monitor

Deployed by developers to track the progress and health of the upgrade, one of the most useful tools for tracking Constantinople progress is the fork monitor. This tool allows developers to monitor the hard fork in real time, providing a visual graph of the blockchain data as it accumulates. Using this tool, developers can witness the network diverge into Byzantium (the current software paradigm) and Constantinople blockchains, and can ensure that no further blocks are being produced on the old chain. The monitor also tracks the difficulty and hashrate of both chains, which should differ substantially once the block number has been reached. If any non-orthodox network activity occurs at the fork time, this will show up on the monitor as well. That said, it’s worth noting that small diverges in ethereum’s blockchain are normal. Tiny forks frequently occur – and are quickly abandoned – due to ethereum’s use of what is called an “uncle,” that allows the platform to have faster block times by abandoning the occasional block. When it comes to the fork activation point, the difference between a split and an uncled block will be obvious, as it should be a clear, permanent divergence between the two blockchains. Still, the monitor only tracks ethereum’s two most popular software clients, Geth and Parity, that together account for roughly 70 percent of the overall network and may not be 100 percent accurate.

Mining hashrate

Critical to this particular upgrade is the mining hashrate, and the ways in which it might differ once the hard fork has occurred. A metric which reveals how many miners are participating on the blockchain, this is a good way to demonstrate the upgrade’s overall support. Additionally, miners are a key party responsible for orchestrating a chain split, because they are the party that ensures whether a transaction will confirm by sorting those transactions into blocks. As such, it’s worth keeping an eye on whether hashrate continues, and for how long, on the Byzantium blockchain. Hash rate on both sides of the upgrade is visible on the ethereum developer’s fork monitor tool. Additionally, metrics website Etherscan shows a graph of the network’s hash rate over time. Still, the current ethereum software contains what is known as a difficulty bomb, an algorithm that increases the mining difficulty overtime, eventually to the point that mining Byzantium is impossible. While the difficulty bomb has been delayed on the Constantinople software, it’s presence on Byzantium means that even in the case of a split, it is unlikely to persist beyond a couple of months, unless Byzantium is still seeing active development.

Nodes

While not responsible for confirming transactions, another critical party within the ethereum ecosystem is nodes, that run ethereum software and store full copies of the blockchain. Full nodes are typically run by developers, businesses, mining pools and users that use full nodes to benefit from increased privacy and security. Users running full nodes can also witness the blockchain fork in real time from their own computer. Currently, a tracking website called Ethernodes shows low statistics for the adoption of the Constantinople upgrade. According to the monitor, the total number of Constantinople compatible full nodes on Geth and Parity is a mere 15.5 percent. Yet while this is a surprisingly low number, Peter Pratscher, CEO of top ethereum mining pool Ethermine, and owner of the Ethernodes website, said that the number was inaccurate, and that adoption is actually closer to a majority. “The adoption you see on [Ethernodes] is not fully accurate as the explorer calculates this statistic taking into account lots of obsolete [and] old Geth/ Parity nodes,” he said in an email. Speaking on Twitter, Parity’s Schoedon echoed this, stating that Ethernode’s scraping software includes many nodes that are no longer operative, and ignores nodes that do not correspond to its network queries. (According to Schoedon, this includes misrepresenting the amount of nodes on ethereum – said to be around 30,000 – to a mere 10,000.) Ethernode’s is in the process of updating their software, with a new scraping technique that is currently in the process of taking samples of the network and creating a partial representation. A preview of the new scraping tool is available here. According to this tool, the total number of upgraded nodes is currently 44 percent. While this is still low, according to Schoedon it isn’t cause for concern. “An upgrade rate of 44 [percent] is (probably) fine as long as we communicate the importance of the upgrade to the key stakeholders of the ethereum ecosystem,” Schoedon tweeted.

Live stream

Perhaps the most engaging way to watch the activation of Constantinople is with live commentary from the developers who wrote the code. Mimicking the style of ethereum’s core developers biweekly meeting, developers are gathering together to watch the code switch in real time. “It is basically a live stream of core developers and potentially some community members joining a Zoom call. It is both a celebration of Constantinople happening and a call to monitor the transition,” Hudson Jameson, developer relations for the Ethereum Foundation, said. Accessible by the public on YouTube, the meeting is due kick off shortly before the upgrade happens. You can listen in to the livestream here.

Price

Finally, another metric to monitor surrounding the upgrade is the price of ether, which may fluctuate in the run up to and following the upgrade. To keep an eye on this, the CoinDesk Price Index will monitor any shifts in real time. Source: www.coindesk.com

Fee Spike on Ethereum Classic Raises Fears of More Exchange Attacks

A sudden surge in transaction fees on the ethereum classic blockchain has some developers speculating whether cryptocurrency exchanges could be at risk of attack, a development that follows last week’s 51% attack in which more than $200,000 was stolen from at least one exchange. Over the last 24 hours, average transaction fees on the blockchain rose to $6.10, up nearly 800 percent from $0.71 the day prior, the largest spike in transaction costs in the history of the blockchain according to data source BitInfoCharts. As such, ethereum classic miners made as much as 844 ETC (or roughly $3,600) verifying transaction blocks Sunday, an unusual occurrence for the network that continues to run the original software instance of the ethereum project. However, the uptick is one of several clues leading developers to think this may be evidence an attacker is using a known exploit to target certain cryptocurrency exchanges. Starting as early at 11:15 AM (UTC) Sunday, one user on the ethereum classic Discord channel reported a near doubling of the hash power, or total computer power, being put toward verifying transactions and mining new blocks, a figure corroborated on blockchain analytics sites such as CoinWarz. Another data source, GasTracker, said ethereum classic mining pool 2miners accounted for a large majority of the additional hashrate hitting up to 3,054.29 GH/s from a rough average shortly beforehand of 160 GH/s. Though no one is able to identify who exactly is sending transactions with such high fees, there is speculation over this individual’s motives. Tweeting out a link identifying a known vulnerability in ethereum gas tokens, Burns posits that the sender of these transactions is looking to take advantage a loophole that enables gas token creation through exchanges free of cost. As background, GasToken is an application created last year that allows users to store and sell “gas” – the fees charged by the network for all operations, such as computing smart contracts. This comes in handy for users looking to save on costs for operations by enabling them to tokenize gas and store it when network fees are low or sell them when prices are high. An exploit discovered by smart contract development startup Level K last October revealed that cryptocurrency exchanges who don’t place a limit on gas usage may end up being drained of funds by attackers minting new gas tokens. Burns explained to CoinDesk:
“An exploit was found a few months ago where exchanges were paying [gas] for the exchange withdrawal. Unknown users were using this to withdraw and minting gas tokens for free [by] having the exchanges pay large amounts of gas.”

Mystery Continues

Some experts, including ethereum classic developer Yaz Khoury, agree with Burn’s analysis that this may be a GasToken exploit. But others aren’t so sure. Speaking to CoinDesk, Anthony Lusardi explained that from a glance at Sunday’s incident, it looks to him as though “someone bought some hashrate to mine blocks and then other addresses made very high-value transactions.” He added it’s unclear at the moment whether any money actually moved through exchanges, suggesting the activity may not be indicative of any GasToken exploit. Similarly, founder and CEO of Bitfly – which runs the ethereum classic mining pool Ethermine – Peter Pratscher told CoinDesk:
“I don’t think the high transaction fees are related to the GasToken exploit … It is unknown if this was a mistake or an intentional measure to subsidize ETC mining pool and prevent further 51% attacks.”
This meaning that the hike in transaction fees could be thought of as a positive to the overall security of the network should they continue and actually attract more miner support to the network. Pratscher added that from the transactions he’s analyzed thus far, all “are standard A to B value transfers that do not interact with a [smart] contract.” Indeed, the ethereum classic community is still left with many questions to answer after events last week caused massive block reorganizations. One of the most harmful consequences of last week’s attack is that cryptocurrency exchanges have reported lost funds. Yet, on an optimistic note, exchange Gate.io reported this weekend that about half of the money (about $100k worth) lost was returned. Since then, Gate.io says it’s taking extra precautions to secure users funds. After having raised block confirmation times to 500 last Tuesday, the confirmation number now is 4,000 indicating a significantly longer wait period for users sending ethereum classic funds through the exchange. Source: www.coindesk.com

Central Bank Veteran’s Blockchain ‘E-Money’ Startup Raises $2 Million

Ethereum development studio ConsenSys has participated in a $2 million seed funding round for Iceland-based blockchain startup Monerium, the firm announced Friday. The round was led by early-stage venture capital firm Crowberry Capital and included participation from private investment firm Hof Holdings, both also based in Iceland. Founded in 2016, Monerium is a fintech startup led by, among others, Jon Helgi Egilsson, former chairman of the Central Bank of Iceland. The firm is developing a solution for transacting fiat currencies over blockchains, what it calls “e-money.” The seed funding will be used to accelerate development of its services. Monerium ultimately aims to issue “asset-backed, redeemable and regulated e-money” over blockchains once it becomes a licensed institution, saying its products would make blockchains “more relevant and useful” to financial institutions and enterprises. While not yet licensed within the EU, its application is in progress, according to the announcement. Monerium CEO Sveinn Valfells said:
“Becoming a licensed financial institution is the next key step for Monerium in order to assume full responsibility for and control over the complete range of functions required to issue e-money on blockchains: asset management, compliance, risk management, and product development.”
Andrew Keys, co-founder of ConsenSys Capital, added that his firm is “dedicated to supporting companies building the infrastructure needed for a more decentralized and self-sovereign future.” Back in November, ConsenSys led a $2.1 million seed round for AZTEC, a startup working to make ethereum transactions private and thereby encourage financial institutions to use the second-largest blockchain. A month prior, it was the sole investor in a $6.5 million fundraise for DrumG Technologies, a blockchain startup formed by R3 former head of business development Tim Grant. Source: www.coindesk.com

Ethereum Miner Linzhi Calls Out Project Coders for Proposed ASIC Ban

Shenzhen-based miner manufacturer Linzhi has published a statement in response to a "tentative" decision, made by ethereum developers Friday, to block specialized hardware, or ASICs, from securing the platform in exchange for rewards. This would involve the implementation of “ProgPoW” in an upcoming upgrade, a code change that is optimized for graphic card, or GPU, hardware. In today’s statement, Linzhi said it was “shocked” by the move, stating, "We reject arbitrary enforcement of rules, and request clear and equal guidelines to be established for all hardware makers." The statement continued:
"Today we are calling upon the ethereum developers to publish rules and requirements for what constitutes a good ProgPoW ASIC maker."
Elaborating on the statement in an email to CoinDesk, director of operations Wolfgang Spraul said that such rules could include more transparency, or even monthly audits of hardware companies by ethereum developers. "The rules should probably include defining better relationships between hardware makers, miners, and developers,” Spraul said, “That’s up to the ethereum developers to define, we think." Following the meeting on Friday at which the developers approved the proposal, discussion regarding ProgPoW has escalated, with several prominent community members coming forward to argue against the change.

ASICs for ProgPoW?

Linzhi is currently designing a chip for ethereum’s current mining algorithm, Ethash. Having expended $4 million on its production, the upcoming miner claims significant advantages over former ethereum ASIC designs. In conversation with CoinDesk, Spraul also said that pending its implementation into ethereum, the company will research the feasibility of building specialized ASIC hardware for ProgPoW. "I can publicly confirm today that we intend to study the feasibility, and then build, ProgPoW ASICs," Spraul said. Because ProgPoW changes ethereum’s underlying mining algorithm, Ethash, to be more memory-heavy, the code switch is said to make GPU hardware competitive with ASICs. Proponents of ProgPoW say that if hardware designers try to build ProgPoW ASICs – which is to say a specialized chip with the sole function of computing ProgPoW – it would just end up resembling GPU hardware. Still, Spraul denied this, stating that “Hardware innovation is non-linear,” and “We can accelerate ProgPoW by a factor of 3x to 8x.” Yesterday, ethereum classic underwent a 51 percent attack – something that the cryptocurrency’s Twitter account claimed may have come from Linzhi. Spraul pushed back on such claims, saying “They are entirely baseless.” Source: www.coindesk.com

Ethereum’s Geth Software Upgrades Ahead of January Hard Fork

The most-used ethereum software client has published code that includes an activation time for Constantinople, a proposed upgrade that, if enacted by users, would bring additional features and enhancements to the network. Go-ethereum (Geth) v1.8.20, released on Tuesday, sets the Constantinople hard fork on the ethereum mainnet, the principal version of the platform, for block 7,080,000. Together with Parity, Geth is one of two softwares used by a majority of the participants in ethereum’s network. As such, the move is the latest sign Constantinople is moving ahead on schedule. The hard fork’s activation block was proposed earlier this month during a developer call, setting the stage for the upcoming release. Should users adopt the new code – by design, such upgrades are subject to acceptance by the network’s userbase – Constantinople could go live between January 14 and 18. Prior to that, Constantinople would activate on the Rinkeby testnet at block 3,660,663. Developers had previously proposed to activate the Constantinople hard fork in November 2018, but issues identified during testing led developers to opt to delay that launch in an effort to squash the bugs. Constantinople seeks to bring an array of design changes, with the broader goal of streamlining the platform’s overall code. Notably, it would reduce the per-block mining reward from 3 ETH to 2 ETH, and also push ahead the so-called “difficulty bomb” – a code element designed to promote frequent upgrades – by another 18 months. Once launched, Constantinople will mark the end of an upgrade process for ethereum formerly dubbed Metropolis. Looking ahead, developers are already working to build what could constitute the next phases of ethereum’s development, dubbed ethereum 1x and ethereum 2.0. Fonte: www.coindesk.com

Ethereum now listed on CoinGetCoin

At its simplest, Ethereum is an open software platform based on blockchain technology that enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications. Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is a distributed public blockchain network. Although there are some significant technical differences between the two, the most important distinction to note is that Bitcoin and Ethereum differ substantially in purpose and capability. Bitcoin offers one particular application of blockchain technology, a peer to peer electronic cash system that enables online Bitcoin payments. While the Bitcoin blockchain is used to track ownership of digital currency (bitcoins), the Ethereum blockchain focuses on running the programming code of any decentralized application. In the Ethereum blockchain, instead of mining for bitcoin, miners work to earn Ether, a type of crypto token that fuels the network. Beyond a tradeable cryptocurrency, Ether is also used by application developers to pay for transaction fees and services on the Ethereum network. There is a second type of token that is used to pay miners fees for including transactions in their block, it is called gas, and every smart contract execution requires a certain amount of gas to be sent along with it to entice miners to put it in the blockchain. Smart contract is just a phrase used to describe a computer code that can facilitate the exchange of money, content, property, shares, or anything of value. When running on the blockchain a smart contract becomes like a self-operating computer program that automatically executes when specific conditions are met. Because smart contracts run on the blockchain, they run exactly as programmed without any possibility of censorship, downtime, fraud or third-party interference.