Ethereum Classic Successfully Hard Forks To Fix Security Flaw

After the attack on the DAO, Ethereum split into two separate blockchains: Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). The split centered around Ethereum’s decision to hard fork in an attempt to undo the damage done by the hack. While both communities share the same ideology, they disagreed on hard forking after a vulnerability was exploited and the DAO lost millions of dollars. Ethereum Classic felt a hard fork to undo any sort of transaction went against the whole purpose of blockchain immutability.

When the Ethereum Foundation hard forked their protocol to retrieve stolen funds, a community of miners and Ethereum users continued along the original blockchain, giving birth to Ethereum Classic. ETC released a declaration of independence and split from the Ethereum Founders. They built their community on the idea that they would only hard fork if it were necessary to fix bugs, security flaws, or upgrades.

Now that time has come: after experiencing denial of service (DoS) attacks on the original blockchain, Ethereum Classic has successfully hard forked at block 2,500,000 on October 25th. ETC has hard forked for the same reason ETH recently did, to deal with the transaction spam that was slowing down the network. Since ETC is made of the same technology as ETH, this hard fork seemed inevitable. But how did the ETC community react to this move? ETHNews reached out to Bit Novosti, a Russian news source, and moderator on Ethereum Classic’s reddit page for comment.

Bit Novosti said:

“Not all hard forks are equally beneficial. From the very beginning of Ethereum Classic project, we made it clear that hard forks are acceptable in order to correct protocol-level bugs, fix security vulnerabilities, and provide functionality upgrades. However, we as a community strongly oppose using hard forking mechanism to meddle on a smart contract layer, to bail out failed contracts or special interests. The gas reprice hard fork provides an important security fix and does not violate any principles that the Ethereum Classic community rallied around, so there was no opposition to it. 

Seeing as how this hard fork could easily have been foreseen due to its innate vulnerability to DoS attacks in the same way ETH was, it appears the update has happened smoothly. The ETC developer team was able to test and implement the necessary code changes. New versions of classic geth and parity were released days prior, allowing all infrastructure types such as wallets, exchanges and mining pools to upgrade in a timely manner. 

Since dealing with the issue of inadequately low gas cost for certain computational operations allowing DoS attacks has effectively been solved, where is ETC headed for in the future? Bit Novosti continues:

“The community definitely grown and matured since its genesis as a protest movement against DAO bailout and breaking of the key blockchain principles that this bailout represented. Even though Ethereum Classic has no deep-pocketed Foundation promoting it, it attracted a critical mass of passionate volunteers that run every aspect of the project. Yesterday's network upgrade success demonstrated that our community is able to act decisively should the need arise, and our development team can stand its ground against security threats to the network.

Our project focus Is on further development of Ethereum Classic into an independent smart contract platform, while retaining compatibility with Ethereum. ETC dev team is currently focused on the next network upgrade that brings protection from replay attacks and makes Ethereum Classic platform viable for long-term PoW mining. This upgrade is planned for January.”

As for the possibility of this hard fork creating a new branch, and Ethereum Classic being split into two more entities, the odds are slim to none. That’s because anyone continuing along the original ETC blockchain would still be vulnerable to the issues and attacks this recent hard fork aimed to fix. For now, it appears ETC's hard fork was a success.