A crypto exchange says: “The recent ETC 51% attacker returned 100k USD value of ETC back to Gate.io. We were trying to contact the attacker but we haven’t got any reply until now.
We still don’t know the reason. If the attacker didn’t run it for profit, he might be a white hacker who wanted to remind people the risks in blockchain consensus and hashing power security.”
The risks of hashing power security are well known, so no one needed a reminder. Raising the question of why exactly was ETC 51% attacked?
You would think someone who has that much hash would be able to make quite a lot of money, legitimately and in an easily spendable way, by just mining.
They would have mined something like 12,000 ETC a day with 50% of the hashrate, or circa $60,000. Meaning they would have mined close to $2 million in a month.
According to Coinbase, the 51% attacker double spent $1.1 million worth of ETC with some suggesting the attack continued after.
Some $100,000 has now been returned, but spending that remaining one million would be difficult as it would probably be considered theft under law.
Why then wouldn’t the miner just enjoy the rewards, rather than becoming a criminal? It may perhaps be that he or she shorted ETC prior to the attack, but its price remained unchanged or even rose. It has fallen since however by about 20%.
Yet that’s a one off, while if they had been mining honestly they’d have continuous decent income that can legitimately be spent.
The hashrate, however, may have not belonged to the attacker. Suggestions are that they rented it from Nicehash. Legitimate mining, therefore, may have not provided as much gain when accounting for costs.
That raises the question of whether Nicehash shouldn’t limit the amount of hash that can be rented by one individual, with a follow up question being whether they can actually practically do so without requiring identification.
In response to the attack, ethereans appear to be sending huge transaction fees presumably to incentivize miners to switch. It appears to have sort of worked for now, but what ETC plans for a more long term solution is not clear.