Vitalik ETHCC speech highlights: advocating enhanced automated defense against 51% attacks

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Original article by Tim Copeland, The Block

Original translation: DeThings

Summary of key points:

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has pushed for the Ethereum network to be better prepared in the event of a 51% attack.

He advocates that we should be prepared to automatically respond to such attacks in order to reduce stress on a social level.

Vitalik ETHCC speech highlights: advocating enhanced automated defense against 51% attacks

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin is pushing the Ethereum network to be reviewed and prepared for a hypothetical 51% attack

“This is something I would advocate that we do more research on and build upon,” he said during a keynote address at the ETHCC in Brussels.

Buterin is considering the concept of a 51% attack, where a malicious actor (or multiple actors working in coordination) produces more of the state of Ethereum blocks than honest actors. He believes that one of the biggest concerns is that this could lead to censorship on the network.

In a potential response to such an attack, he said honest validators should move to a fork of the chain. The current plan relies heavily on social consensus, with community members working together to reach agreement on a fork.

However, Buterin believes it would be better if the network was better prepared for such responses. It would be best if such responses were largely automated and planned in advance, he said.

“We want the response to a 51% attack to be as automated as possible. So if you’re a validator, then your node should be running software that will automatically counter-censor the majority chain if it detects that a transaction is being censored, or certain validators are being censored or it’s being censored, and all the honest nodes will automatically, as a result of the code that they’re running, coordinate to use the same minority software,” he said.

Buterin acknowledged that it would be impossible to automatically move 100% of the network to a fork because there are many constraints. But he said: The closer you can get to that, the less effort social consensus will have to put in.

He said the technical layer needs to at least provide a clearly winning soft fork candidate so that the community can come together if they need to move away from a censored chain.

Buterin’s other suggestions for Ethereum

Buterin also advocated for increased adoption of light clients at the infrastructure level of Ethereum, especially including wallets. He said they should also support zk-EVM verification, further supporting second-layer networks.

He also discussed the issue of quantum resistance. He noted that this is an open problem for the Ethereum blockchain. However, he believes that the network faces four risk elements – Merkle trees, consensus signatures, data blocks, and user accounts – but each has its own solution.

Among other things, he pushes for further protocol simplification to make it easier for developers and users to use.

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