Bitcoin Hacked? It Happened (twice). Not Blowing Smoke.

Bitcoin has been dangerously exploitable — twice — allowing infinite BTC to be minted for free.

Many are surprised to learn Bitcoin’s (BTC) source code has been dangerously exploitable, twice, allowing infinite free Bitcoin to be minted. The most recent occurred less than 3 years ago and fortunately was stopped; the first, however, was almost catastrophic.

A Tragedy of the Commons for Bitcoin, there has still yet to be a formal security audit conducted on its code, begging the question if a third inflation bug exists.

The 2 Bitcoin Inflation Bugs Discovered So Far:

🔴 The CVE-2010–5139 bug on August 15th, 2010 resulted in 184-Billion BTC being minted. On the heels of this event core developers Gavin Andresen and Satoshi Nakamoto had to roll back the blockchain in order to purge this transaction from block 74638.


🔴 More recently, on September 17th, 2018, the CVE-2018–17144 bug was discovered by a Bitcoin Cash (BCH) developer who selflessly took action before it could be similarly exploited by anyone else who may also discover it.

Bitcoin’s spaghetti code and hackable past may be the leading factor as to why we see nothing substantial being built on top of it, nor any imminent plans. Why hasn’t Bitcoin’s source code undergone a full security audit? Security is paramount; in fact, it is one of highest utilities a cryptocurrency can have.

Fooled By Hash Rate

Many people, including several ostensible leaders in the space, are fooled into believing the parroting that higher hash rate therefore means higher security. This broad generalization is easily disproven: The bugs that cryptocurrencies have— including Bitcoin — are primarily software bugs. A very small minority of bugs are related to hash rate (e.g. 51% attack). So you can have enormous hash rate, as in the case of Bitcoin, yet if the code is exploitable the hashing provides no security. In fact, an inflation bug is the worst kind of attack a cryptocurrency can suffer because it allows the infinite printing of the crypto for free. As of this writing 2 inflation bugs have already been discovered in Bitcoin, with the most recent occurring less than 3 years ago. One can only hope the leadership in this space will exercise prudence and sponsor a full security audit for Bitcoin.

Today more of the Top 10 cryptocurrencies were originally built on top of Ethereum (ETH) than any other blockchain substrate. Ethereum offers superior security in a Turing-complete language featuring smart contract functionality. The capabilities of Ethereum have been enormously beneficial in the advancement of blockchain technology; its myriad programmable design features, coupled with better security and performance capabilities, are features Bitcoin severely lacks. With the launch of Ethereum 2.0 approaching, it is highly anticipatory what further growth and capabilities may likely transpire.

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Bitcoin Hacked? It Happened (twice). Not Blowing Smoke. was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.