An attack on the second largest Bitcoin mining pool?


This attack is considered to have changed the actual display capacity of the operators. Of course, this issue has been dealt with, and Antpool expected to compensate users before 16th April.

On the last April Fool’s Day, after the controversial news shared by Vitalik introducing WTF and capping the supply of Ethereum, we cannot ignore the real danger in the crypto space such as the attack on the giant Antpool.

So, what is Antpool?

Antpool is a mining pool for cryptocurrency. Before we begin, please be reminded that  Bitcoin’s blockchain operates thanks to the processing power provided by the "miners" involved in the system. And in return, the system will attach new Bitcoins to each new block (blocks which are used for data storage), as a "reward" for the work of the miners.

Rewards from these blocks are the only new supply of Bitcoin in the market.

And, the creation of blocks is a random result. In theory, out of the thousands who participate in the mining process, only a small group will actually receive the reward from new blocks. In addition, to ensure the rate of 10 minutes per block, the Bitcoin system will continuously decrease the probability of creating blocks as more and more people participate in mining crypto. This means that each miner has a lower success rate in earning a reward.

Because of this, mining pools like Antpool are born.

When entering the mining pool, the miners will contribute their processing power to a large network, thereby combining the probability of receiving rewards of the participants (equivalent to the total probability of all the participants in the pool), then the pool will share profits with members based on the effort of each person.

Rather than a great reward but with a small chance, miners now will enjoy a small reward but with a great chance.

Currently, in the Bitcoin pie, Antpool ranks second in terms of processing capacity across the Bitcoin system, accounting for about 14% of the newly created blocks, thus controlling 14% of the new Bitcoin supply in the market.

Below, there is a chart showing the Bitcoin mining shares of the biggest mining pools in the past 24 hours. Currently, is leading with 28% of the mining and Antpool is second with 14%, followed by BTC.TOP and ViaBTC with over 10% each.

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Then on 1st April, Antpool was attacked.

Fortunately, Antpool has many pools for various kinds of cryptocurrencies, and this attack was not aimed at the Bitcoin mining pool, but instead, on the Siacoin (SC) pool-a token of a startup of cloud computing storage combines with the decentralized characteristic of Blockchain.

This attack is considered to have changed the actual display capacity of the operators. Of course, this issue has been dealt with, and Antpool expected to compensate users before 16th April.

It is not too rare for a large-scale mining pool such as Antpool to be attacked, but the risk of these attacks is unpredictable. With Bitcoin's current Proof of Work mechanism, a 51% attack (51% of the blockchain Bitcoin capacity is manipulated) would lead to the collapse of the entire system. And from the chart above, it can be seen that hackers only need to control 3-4 pools to launch a 51% attack.

The event came shortly after Bitmain, Antpool's parent company, launched the AntminerA3 mining machine. It is known that these types of ASIC (specialized mining machine) are suspected to increase the efficiency of large-scale mining pools such as Antpool, thus solidating the supremacy of these mining pools. This would cause market imbalance and concentrate the power in the hands of only a few groups in the market, which goes against the "decentralized" goal of blockchain. It’s easy to imagine that the violation of this fundamental feature would open a path to all forms/types of market manipulation.

In addition, concentrating too much power on a processing pool makes hacking become easier, as instead of having to attack 10,000 computers 10,000 times, they can attack 10,000 computers at once each time - and when it happens, no one will benefit.

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