Ethereum Merge makes network more vulnerable to attack — Security expert

Despite the Ethereum Merge being touted as a significant improve to the blockchain network, its transition to proof-of-stake theoretically makes it more vulnerable to exploit.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, the safety researcher defined that not like proof-of-work (PoW) methods, a proof-of-stake (PoS) system informs node validators prematurely what blocks they are going to validate, thus enabling them to plan assaults.

The safety expert, who requested not to be named, is a blockchain developer and safety researcher engaged on a proof-of-stake layer-2 blockchain.

The researcher defined that an exploit might theoretically happen on the post-Merge Ethereum blockchain if validators handle to line up two consecutive blocks to validate.

“If you control two consecutive blocks, you can start an exploit on block N and finish it on block N+1 without having any arbitrage bot coming in and fixing the price that you have manipulated in between.”

“From an economic security standpoint, [this vulnerability] makes these attacks relatively easier to pull off.”

The expert mentioned that whereas it’s additionally doable for miners to validate consecutive blocks in PoW networks — that comes down to “pure luck” and offers the miner no time to plan an attack.

As a consequence, the safety researcher argues that Ethereum might be forgoing some energy in safety when the Merge takes impact:

“As we stand right now [with] the Ethereum proof-of-work versus Ethereum proof-of-stake, Ethereum proof-of-work does have stronger security […] and economic guarantees.”

“But that being said […] proof-of-stake [still] has sufficient practical security [and] it doesn’t really matter that it’s theoretically not as secure as proof-of-work. It’s still a very secure system,” he added.

Related: Buterin and Armstrong replicate on proof-of-stake shift as Ethereum Merge nears

The safety expert added that “Ethereum is working on fixing [the consecutive block issue].

It is a hard problem to solve, but if that gets done, then proof-of-stake security will [further] increase [as] they’ll have protection against those attack vectors.”

Ethereum validators are topic to slashing in PoS, because the consensus guidelines have been designed to economically incentivize validators to appropriately validate incoming transactions and any conduct to the opposite would see their ETH stake slashed.

The Ethereum Merge is lastly set to happen on Sept. 15 at about 2:30am UTC, in accordance to Blocknative’s Ethereum Merge Countdown. The transition to PoS is about to make the Ethereum network more scalable and energy-efficient.

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