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Monero Could Be in Danger of a 51% Attack

Monero (XMR) faces the risk of a majority attack shortly. Despite being a reputable alternative to altcoins for incognito transactions, the privacy coin could soon compromise its integrity.

In light of recent efforts to kick out ASIC miners, new metrics continue to expose the susceptibility of Monero’s blockchain to a 51% takeover. A majority attack means a user (or a group of users) has pooled resources to usurp a blockchain by possessing more than 50% of its computing power. 

Miners often require significant computing power to simplify complex math problems to add blocks to the blockchain. The network, in turn, rewards a miner for successfully adding new blocks. Since the blockchain relies on the agreement of more than half of its miners for validating transactions, hijackers can destroy the system’s integrity by running false transactions for selfish reasons.

Monero’s Struggles with ASIC Miners

Private crypto has battled application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners since its inception in July 2016. However, according to recent hash metrics, the privacy protocol could lose the integrity of its network to its most potent mining pool. As of February 12th, this estimated 2022, one of Monero’s pools to contribute more than 44% of its computing power. This leaves only a meager 7% before a possible 51% majority takeover. MineXMR commands 39% of the protocol’s hash power at writing, followed by nanopool.  

This time last year, the Monero protocol forked in a bid to reduce hash rate levels and reliance on ASIC mining. However, ASIC mining pools continue to bully small-time miners out of rewards while hogging hash distribution despite the upgrade.

A 51% share of hash power distribution means a mining pool with high-power devices could surrender the authority of the Monero protocol to attackers. As a result, perpetrators can perform all sorts of manipulations on the blockchain. For example, they can modify blocks. This allows them to engage in double-spending (reverting their crypto holdings to their previous state before an expenditure). 

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For a network known for its privacy and security, the centralization of its computing power does not bode well. On the other hand, if XMR remains unprofitable for household miners, a 51% takeover might be closer than earlier thought.

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