Ethereum Classic's MESS solution is not secure enough against 51% attacks

Ethereum Classic's MESS solution is not secure enough against 51% attacks - MESS 1024x576According to a recent analysis, the solution implemented to safeguard against the so-called 51% attacks on the Ethereum Classic network (ETC can also be traded on Bitcoin system) may not be as safe as other alternatives already developed.

The 51% Attack Problem

Last summer, ETC's blockchain suffered three 51% attacks in one month. Soon thereafter, ETC Labs - a leading network support organization - announced it would implement Modified Exponential Subjective Scoring (MESS) as an “innovative, low-risk” means of reducing the risk of future attacks by 51 percent.

But, according to a report this week from ETC Cooperative and developer Cardano IOHK, after careful study it can be concluded that the MESS solution will not provide "solid security" and there is "no guarantee that further attacks will not succeed." Furthermore, MESS would not gain the trust of "stakeholders by reducing confirmation times to desirable levels," the report reads.

A 51% attack occurs when a cybercriminal manages to obtain most of the computing power of a network, and then reorganizes the blocks on the chain and potentially double-spend transactions.

MESS is designed to make large block reorgs up to 31x more expensive, theoretically nullifying any profit motives behind 51% attacks. The companies looked at various solutions proposed by developer teams across the ETC community for analysis and concluded that the checkpoint and timestamp solutions would provide superior security.

Alternative solutions

According to the report, the timestamp solution allows ETC to base its security on another secure blockchain such as Bitcoin. The checkpoint, on the other hand, works by having a “trusted authority” select a block that becomes the standard chain that all participants must follow, which cannot be subsequently “deleted or restored”.

ETC Co-op Executive Director Bob Summerwill said he hopes the report will be the "first step" towards centralized decision making among ETC executives, "allowing technical and other ecosystem proposals to be essentially peer reviewed," improving them and ensuring they are solid. "

The report also suggested the implementation of a "decentralized treasury", providing a continuous source of funding for the future development of the ETC platform. "A democratic and transparent funding mechanism will also allow the ETC community to determine its future direction, allowing it to choose which innovations to incorporate into the ETC product offering," it reads. This, the report says, would ultimately allow ETC to "keep up with and surpass the capabilities of other platforms."