Sillicon Valley Season 5 Finale Episode – 51 % Attack
Silicon Valley in USA, is TV series that revolves around the struggles of few programmers and entreprenuers who are trying to make a mark in the big, bad world of programming. The finale episode of season 5, titled “Fifty-One Percent,” features a crazy twist centered on what’s called a 51 percent attack.
In cryptocurrency world, 51% attack refers to an attack on a blockchain – usually bitcoin’s, for which such an attack is still hypothetical – by a group of miners controlling more than 50% of the network’s mining hash rate, or computing power.
On the show, Pied Piper’s enemies start joining the blockchain network until they reach a 51 percent consensus, which gives them the power to manuplate the blockchain
“Delete all of our users, all of our developer apps, crash our coin. This would be the end of Pied Piper,” explains Dinesh.
The 51 percent attack does exist in the real world and has been deployed against smaller coins like Krypton and Shift, which are clones of the more popular cryptocurrency Ethereum. Both were attacked by the same group in 2016, which calls itself the 51 Crew. Once the group held a majority of both coins, it then sent their creators a ransom note, stating that serious damage would occur to Krypton and Shift if they weren’t paid.
This is a real threat, a group of coin miners that control more than 50 percent of the network can wreak havoc by stopping payments between users, or reverse certain completed transactions, so that it would look as if they still had the coins they spent.
Cornell University professor and developer Emin Gün Sirer believes the extent of these attacks is slightly embellished on the show:
“Miners at 51 percent or more have a lot of powers, but they do not have the ability to change the actual rules of the system, nor can they usurp funds. They can rewrite the existing blockchain in a limited fashion: they cannot introduce transactions that don’t already exist, they can omit any transaction that they want, and they certainly cannot change any of the existing rules.”
What was showed on Television can become a real life threat of certain measures and cautions are not taken to protect the cryptocurrency and blockchain from hackers to make a 51 percent attack.
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Rohit Kukreja is a Commerce graduate with Financial Markets expertise involving Stocks, Forex, Futures & Options Market and now Bitcoins & Cryptocurrency Markets. Blockchain Enthusiast but not a techie, Rohit is an active member of various Blockchain & Crypto communities all over India.