Bitcoin Cash Bug Fixed By Bitcoin Core Developer Cory Fields - Responsible Disclosure
On the 25th of April 2018, a Bitcoin Core developer named Cory Fields found a critical bug in the Bitcoin Cash code. The vulnerability was fixed on the 7th of May 2018 without incident.
The reason we're only hearing about it now months later is because of responsible disclosure.
If Cory released information on the Bitcoin Cash bug to the public before it was fixed, it could have been exploited and the whole Bitcoin Cash ecosystem would be affected.
Responsible disclosure in this case is Cory informing the Bitcoin Cash developers anonymously that there's a bug in their code so they can fix it before the public is able to take advantage of it.
Bitcoin Cash Bug - What Happened?
This bug was so significant that a successful exploit could have stopped Bitcoin Cash transactions from happening safely. This would completely undermine the utility and value of one of the world's most valuable cryptocurrencies.
A portion of the transaction code was altered which changed the underlying code.
What the new code was supposed to do was refactor the same code so it was more presentable. Think of it as rewriting something to mean the same thing.
The new way of presenting the code actually changed what the code did. This would allow a specially crafted transaction to split the Bitcoin Cash chain into two incompatible chains that run a long side each other.
A chain split is when two versions of a blockchain produce different code. Only one version will accept your transaction. The other will deny it. Since blocks are chained together through cryptography, each chain will continue to disagree with each other.
The new version broke the hash-based proof-of-work cryptography.
The currency will have essentially been split into two incompatible currencies. Transactions would no longer be possible. There is no value in a system like that.
When this bug was discovered, roughly half of the entire Bitcoin Cash network had upgraded to this new version with the vulnerability. A network split in half like that would be devastating.
Thankfully the issue was resolved after Cody contacted the Bitcoin Cash developers. This was no easy task. Read Cody's full account of what happened
A couple of changes on a few lines of code can bring down an entire cryptocurrency. Reviewing code diligently and responsibly should take priority. It's important to have as many eyes as possible review the code to spot mistakes.
Cory Fields saved the day this time. Let's not forget Cory is a Bitcoin Core developer.
Don't get sucked into the Bitcoin vs. Bitcoin Cash war - there isn't one.
Two cryptocurrencies are working together to solve the world's problems. This space is still in its infancy and we're all in this together.
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