The security of the Bitcoin network has been criticized on several occasions, but the flagship cryptocurrency remains unscathed. However, innovations continue and crypto industry leaders are now supporting an initiative from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) that seeks to enhance the bitcoin network’s security.
Dubbed the “Bitcoin Software and Security Effort,” the open-source initiative will promote research that strengthens the Bitcoin network’s defenses. The efforts are being backed by crypto industry leaders like Gemini’s Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, MicroStrategy’s CEO Michael Saylor, Square CEO Jack Dorsey, and major European digital asset manager, CoinShares.
In its blog post the DCI outline that Bitcoin’s growth from an “obscure cryptographic toy” to a robust network that “secures on the order of $1 [trillion] of value” was the result of millions of hours invested into developing the blockchain network by open-source developers.
To support this initiative, Coinshares has announced a $500,000 donation to the project. The company’s chief executive Jean-Marie Mognetti has urged other crypto companies to follow.
“As a beneficiary of the work of hundreds of developers who secure, upgrade, and maintain the open-source protocols that underlie the Bitcoin network and the applications built on top of it, we believe for-profit firms in the digital asset industry have an obligation to fund independent, neutral development efforts and research that advances the mutual interest of all ecosystem participants.”
The four-year research and development program expects to “harden the Bitcoin network and steward the industry’s commitment to funding open-source software,” the announcement added. A part of the post reads:
“The objective of DCI’s new program is to contribute neutral, expert resources to improving the robustness of the Bitcoin protocol. Bitcoin’s security is foundational to the underlying technology’s continued evolution, as well as the broad realization of the public-good promises of digital currencies.”
The announcement outlined various issues that MIT seeks to address. Some of these include sustaining a senior team of Bitcoin developers, exploring new programming languages, and pre-emptive investigations against possible attacks.
MIT has also stressed that the network’s security must be strengthened, citing increasing adoption, noting the various challenges associated with coordinating a decentralized network:
“Unlike traditional assets, Bitcoin is software running on a decentralized network. Bitcoin’s security is predicated on the accuracy and robustness of the software and hardware running it, and the actions of those participating in the network.”
Previously, DCI researcher James Lovejoy has voiced concerns regarding the risks of a 51% attack. He believes the changes of a bad actor capturing a majority share of nodes and controlling the bitcoin network could be much more plausible than previously thought. Hence, he has stressed the need for active blockchain monitoring:
“You need an active observer to be monitoring the network to check whether or not an attack occurs.”
“Up until now, we’ve been reliant on victims to tell us about whether they’ve been attacked. As you can imagine, if this results in insolvency or a loss of user funds, victims are often not super interested in revealing when an attack has taken place,” he added.