Around 70 percent of all nodes supporting the Bitcoin Unlimited (BU) scaling framework went offline after a fault and potential exploit on the code made the rounds on the internet.
Node Counter provided real time statistics on the bitcoin news after noticing that the BU node count of 776 plummet to 245 in the span of a few minutes on March 14.
The following day, the pro-BU statistics portal observed the number of available nodes shoot back up to 530; this made for a surge of more than 200%, but still, a significant net shrinkage of the share of BU nodes on the system went from 12% to 8.36%.
Nodes validate and keep history records of transactions on a blockchain and enforce the network’s transaction rules by code.
The aforesaid bug created a vulnerability that would take nodes offline if a certain message was dispatched to them.
BU developer Peter Tschipper flagged the issue on GitHub, causing the piece of bitcoin news to go viral on social media and consequently spark commentary from supporters and critics of the project.
Specifically, the bitcoin news reignited the old rivalry between BU and Bitcoin Core (Core) supporters.
“If Bitcoin Unlimited was a predominant client, this vulnerability would have left the entire community open to being crashed,” commented one Redditor on a largely pro-Core subreddit.
Another one reckoned one year was too long for such a large vulnerability to go unnoticed if the developers at BU were truly superior to their opposite numbers at Core.
It is alleged that moments after Todd shared the bitcoin news, an exploit followed causing more than 400 nodes to go offline.
According to the renowned cryptography consultant and major contributor to GitHub, there could be a possibility the vulnerability had been present for a year or more.
Since BU nodes represented a mere 13% of all bitcoin nodes prior to the crash, however, there was no chance an attack through the vulnerability could have crippled the whole or even a substantial portion of the network.
The community’s international ecosystem is made up of an estimated 6,100 nodes, meaning a mere 5% were offline according to Node Counter’s statistics.
Soon after the bitcoin news circulated, developers at BU were quick on the draw to release an update with a fix.
Meanwhile, client’s supporters didn’t reckon it was wise of Peter Todd to break the bitcoin news so publicly without at least crediting the developers for the prompt response.
“The point of your post is to defame Bitcoin Unlimited,” tweeted one BU supporter.
“But actually the bug was handled quite well, don’t you think?”
Bitcoin Unlimited is an alternate bitcoin software program implementation, which mainly seeks to put in place a user-configured transaction block dimension to enable scaling the community.
While the vulnerability and the alleged attack that ensued may not make for a very substantial strike, it makes for one of the largest to have ever hit the community and hit the headlines of bitcoin news.
The most recent attack on the community prior to this was back in January, when an invalid BU block cost supporter Roger Ver more than $12,000.