In this day and age ten years is an incredibly long time in terms of tech. Yet ten years on, we are still marvelling at Bitcoin – the cryptocurrency that was released by an anonymous figure known only as Satoshi Nakamoto.
Over the years the topic of 51% attacks has become a point of contention, yet it was recognised and addressed in the original Bitcoin whitepaper. For the uninitiated, Bitcoin uses a Proof of Work (PoW) consensus mechanism that is controlled by a decentralized series of nodes that contribute ‘work’ with computational power to maintain the network.
A 51% attack is an inherent risk of a PoW network because the network relies on the ‘work’ being distributed in a decentralized manner. If an individual were able to contribute 51+% of the ‘work’ (or hashrate) to the network, they would effectively be in control of the network. This would enable the individual to do as they please with the network, whether that’s rewriting transactions, double spending or anything else.
The protection from a 51% attack is simple – the cost to perform it is too expensive. It’s assumed that it will be too expensive for someone to carry out an attack on a PoW network. For Bitcoin, maybe, but for smaller PoW networks, this isn’t the case. Still, the threat is ever present for Bitcoin too, especially with the uprising of massive mining pools that control an ungodly amount of the Bitcoin hashrate.
Looking for a solution
The threat of 51% attacks has to be respected, since the defence against them is merely a matter of cost. As a result, there have been many different initiatives to craft blockchains that operate using different consensus mechanisms. The aim is to maintain the level of network integrity and trust provided by PoW, while also increasing security and eradicating the possibility of a 51% attack.
One popular method is Proof of Stake (PoS) – a consensus mechanism that operates on the assumption that users that stake (or risk) their money will have an incentive to ensure network integrity. PoS technically resolves the issue of 51% attacks, but still has issues. With PoS, decisions are weighted based on the proportion staked. Therefore, once again an individual can spend a significant amount of money and attack the network by controlling the majority of the staked funds or voting power.
Finding a solution
There are many different initiatives trying to solve this problem. One of particular interest is Geeq.
Geeq is a blockchain platform that enables the development of blockchain applications that has been carefully crafted to provide businesses a simple, secure path to adoption blockchain technology. Geeq is secured using a custom made consensus mechanism, appropriately named Proof of Honesty (PoH).
PoH is relevant here because it is a new consensus mechanism that is designed to re-introduce trust to the blockchain space by eradicating the fear of 51% attacks. PoH is said to achieve 99% Byzantine Fault Tolerance. In other words, this new consensus mechanism could be what every blockchain enthusiast has been looking for.
Bringing honesty, transparency and security back
PoH pulls together the popular characteristics of PoW and PoS. The consensus mechanism is open, so anyone can participate. However, unlike other approaches, Geeq’s PoH has no leaders or block proposers. While the consensus mechanism financially incentivises good behaviour and punishes dishonest behaviour, it is only a portion of Geeq’s security model. Here, Geeq considers what no other blockchain does: that the blockchain must withstand attacks within the networks by participants willing to sacrifice their own financial self-interest. In that case, Geeq’s protocol is the only one to ensure honest, innocent, end users are unharmed.
Contributing nodes store $GEEQs in an escrow account referred to as GBB – Good Behaviour Bond. While every node escrows a GBB, PoH is different from PoS in that a node cannot put in more in return for more influence over the blockchain. This ensures the blockchain is permissionless at the validation level – one does not have to be rich or have outsized resources to participate. How does Geeq incentivize participation, then?
Whereas PoW famously awards the block reward to the block proposer, (and PoS ??? divides rewards to the stakers proportionally), thus shutting out those less well equipped from gaining rewards from participating in the network, Geeq (gasp) pays nodes their costs, plus: in other words, every node participating in the network will receive a profit for the work it provides.
The consensus mechanism is set up in a number of layers with self policing that allows honest nodes to write audits about dishonest nodes and collect the $GEEQs stored in the dishonest nodes’ GBB as a reward. All in all, the system ensures that an honest and correct version of the blockchain prevails.
Geeq takes rules seriously. They believe that code is law, and their blockchain infrastructure upholds this view. Once a new chain on Geeq has set rules within the Genesis block, that’s it. The rules cannot be changed and will never be able to be changed. I know what you’re thinking: that’s not very future proof. Don’t worry – Geeq’s ahead of us on this one. Geeq’s multi-chain architecture provides an innovative solution that allows chains to upgrade without breaking the core principle that code is law.
Geeq’s PoH is able to achieve all of this while being entirely decentralized. There have been scandals and issues arising recently, such as IOTA and Grin, where the ‘decentralized’ nature of a supposed DLT has been compromised in a bad way. In the case of IOTA the network was completely shut down by the IOTA foundation. This is not something that is possible with Geeq and PoH due to the rules in place with PoH. Nodes are regularly checked to ensure they are compliant and the network cannot be shut down by a centralized entity. Not now, not ever.
Why is this important?
On Geeq you, the user, have ultimate control. You choose who to transact with. If a node seems dodgy for any reason, it is your choice to avoid it and go elsewhere – which is perfectly within your ability with PoH. Geeq is an entire ecosystem focussed on security. You can move your token to a different PoH chain, something that can’t be done with any other blockchain.
51% attacks are a constant risk for any PoW chain. The only deterrent is the cost one would take to orchestrate. As long as PoW chains exist they are going to be a threat.
Blockchain developers recognized this issue and have consequently built a number of alternative consensus mechanisms that aim to capitalize on the weaknesses of PoW. Competitors to PoW are designed to eradicate the possibility of 51% attacks, but still, present various other security flaws.
Geeq has developed Proof of Honesty, a proprietary consensus mechanism that is said to achieve 99% Byzantine Fault Tolerance, meaning 51% attacks are not possible. With PoH Geeq aims to reinforce their personal mantra that code is law and to re-invigorate the security standards of the cryptocurrency industry.
*This article has been sponsored. The Daily Chain encourages you to carry out your own research before you make any form of investment and educate yourself about how to stay safe in the crypto space.