There is also another post, here on SN, with additional comments on this paper:
Uncle Maker: Ethereum's Consensus Vulnerability
We present an attack on Ethereum’s consensus mechanism which can be used by miners to obtain consistentlyhigher mining rewards compared to the honest protocol. This attack is novel in that it does not entailwithholding blocks or any behavior which has a non-zero probability of earning less than mining honestly, incontrast with the existing literature.This risk-less attack relies instead on manipulating block timestamps, and carefully choosing whether andwhen to do so. We present this attack as an algorithm, which we then analyze to evaluate the revenue a minerobtains from it, and its eect on a miner’s absolute and relative share of the main-chain blocks.The attack allows an attacker to replace competitors’ main-chain blocks after the fact with a block of itsown, thus causing the replaced block’s miner to lose all transactions fees for the transactions contained withinthe block, which will be demoted from the main-chain. This block, although “kicked-out” of the main-chain,will still be eligible to be referred to by other main-chain blocks, thus becoming what is commonly called inEthereum an uncle.We proceed by dening multiple variants of this attack, and assessing whether any of these attacks has beenperformed in the wild. Surprisingly, we nd that this is indeed true, making this the rst case of a conrmedconsensus-level manipulation performed on a major cryptocurrency.Additionally, we implement a variant of this attack as a patch for Go Ethereum (geth), Ethereum’s mostpopular client, making it the rst consensus-level attack on Ethereum which is implemented as a patch. Finally,we suggest concrete xes for Ethereum’s protocol and implemented them as a patch for geth which can beadopted quickly and mitigate the attack and its variants.CCS Concepts: •Applied computing→Digital cash;•Security and privacy→Economics of security andprivacy;Distributed systems security.Additional Key Words and Phrases: cryptocurrency, blockchain, proof of work, consensus, securityACM Reference Format
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