An unidentified spammer has wreaked havoc on Zcash node operators by filling transaction blocks with a myriad of shielded transaction outputs.
At press time, Zcash miners had verified a block with four shielded transaction outputs at a block height of 1832666, according to the blockchain mining tool.
Twitter user xenumonero first highlighted the spammer’s activity:
At press time, at least two out of five blocks had been spammed at most with protected transaction outputs, having sizes close to the two-megabyte limit. The most recent block size was around 1.4 megabytes.
While the motive for the attack has yet to be determined, bax1337 from Convex Labs believes that the goal is to discredit Zcash through failing nodes due to memory, performance, and synchronization issues. Additionally, would-be node operators could be discouraged from participating in the network, making the blockchain vulnerable to surveillance or so-called Eclipse attacks.
Eclipse attacks occur when a hacker tricks a network node into creating an artificial environment around it to make it receive fake transaction confirmations, among other things. The success of an Eclipse attack is highly dependent on the structure of the underlying blockchain, and often the inherent structure of the blockchain is sufficient to thwart such attacks.
One Zcash user, @igototokyo, suggested that community developers of rival privacy currency Monero were responsible for the attack:
Monero is another privacy-focused crypto project that uses ring signatures to hide sender and receiver identities in a transaction. Ring signatures combine a sender’s signature or authorization for a transaction with other signatures. This combination makes it difficult to determine which signature belongs to the sender.
Zcash, on the other hand, uses a cryptographic proof called Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge, or zk-SNARK, for its protected transactions. This allows a transacting party, for example, to convince a verifier that a number exists for a given cryptographic hash without revealing what that number is.
Zcash was founded by a group of scientists who created the Bitcoin software to create a cryptocurrency called Zerocash. Scientists founded Zerocoin in 2015, later becoming Electric Coin Company.
Is Zcash secure?
According to the Zcash blog, Electric Coin and the Zcash Foundation conduct regular audits to assess blockchain security. The blockchain is also regularly updated to accommodate current and future use cases.
In May 2022, the blockchain was upgraded to Network Upgrade 5, which introduced a new zero-knowledge system called Halo 2.
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