Ethereum Experienced Software Upgrade Issues Over the Weekend

August 31, 2021, 10:15 AM AEST - 4 weeks ago

In a recent situation affecting the Ethereum blockchain, not all full nodes have installed an important update, resulting in a chain split. It seems like a bug in the older versions of the Ethereum (ETH) Geth client needed fixing and some node administrators were slow to respond.

An Unintended Chain Split

During mid-August, a “high severity” vulnerability was spotted on the Ethereum Geth client used for running nodes to keep the network safe and the data accurate; this prompted the hotfix called “Hades Gamma”.

The exact attack vector will be provided at a later date to give node operators and dependent downstream projects time to update their nodes and software. All Geth versions supporting the London hard fork are vulnerable (the bug is older than London), so all users should update.

Ethereum core developer

The Chiliz exchange even temporarily paused deposits and withdrawals of ETH, BSC and HECO due to the bug. But now, since too few of the nodes had the newest patch up and running, the chain has split.

However, at the time of publication, the majority of nodes are running updated versions of Ethereum, meaning the hash rate is supporting the longest chain. 

Geth client versions: ethernodes.org

What Are the Implications for Ethereum?

This means that the Ethereum blockchain is currently processing at least two chains simultaneously, which could lead to double-spending where users spend cryptocurrency but the transaction is overwritten on an alternative chain.

The Geth client accounts for 74.63 percent of the network nodes and only 66 percent have the most up-to-date version, leaving the rest at risk. An address has been identified by The Block Research as the address that exploited the bug.

What is the Latest?

At the moment the nodes are catching up to get the chain completely up to date, with many within the community calling for node operators to update.

Delays are also to be expected since this is a massive community update requiring many different node operators to update their clients.

There are technologies to make transitions such as these smoother by forcing important updates on nodes, but the Ethereum blockchain should reach normality as soon as nodes catch up.

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