Ellipticoin launched! The network ran for a total 4 hours 48 minutes and 55 seconds at which point a hacker managed to stall the network. I wrote a post-mortem below but first a bit more about the launch!

We had 22 trades and $4,142 in trade volume go through the community bridge and more and more people are hearing about Ellipticoin organically. Our goal was to make it to $10k in volume this phase but $4k is plenty to prove out people want what we’re building and that we should continue to iterate.

Post Mortem

Some day Ellipticoin will be known as the most secure blockchain on earth. Right now that’s not possible or realistic. Normally before blockchain networks launch they pay for an audit which is basically a proof read but for code and instead of searching for spelling errors auditors search for bugs. Blockchain audits can cost $100k or more! Since we’re bootstrapping Ellipticoin we can’t afford an audit. Instead we’re launching as is, warning people of the risks and fixing bugs as they come up. When bugs do come up we roll back state to the place where the bug occurred, fix the bug and launch the network from there.

We knowingly went this route and it didn’t take long for a bug to be exploited. The exploit that caused the network to stall was creative and I tip my hat to the hacker that exploited it. I hope soon for the Ellipticoin DAO to have funds to properly compensate white hat hackers.

The hacker made use of two issues with Ellipticoin and managed to stall the network. One was what’s called a replay attack and the other was how we choose block winners.

In block 2876 the hacker sent a “start_mining” transaction signed by one of our miners. How were they able to generate a signature without the private key? They didn’t actually. They just copied a transaction that had already been run on a previous iteration of the network. The solution to this is to add a network_id field to transactions so they can’t be replayed. It looks like Ethereum had a similar issue at launch which has since been fixed.

The “start_mining” transaction added that miner to the list of available miners. When that miner was selected the winner all the other miners waited for that miner to produce the next block. Since that miner wasn’t really online it never produced a block and the network stalled. If a miner fails to produce a block after a certain amount of time we should slash their stake and let the next miner mine the block.

Of all of the things that could have gone wrong this is relatively not that bad. No tokens were stolen and everybody who bought will have their tokens when we relaunch. As we continue to iterate we’ll continue to harden the network and make it more secure.

Going forward

We’re going to take the next few months to fix the bugs that were uncovered in this phase and build an automated market maker on top of Ellipticoin. We’re also going to build a bridge on Ren so we can move all ERC20 tokens over to Ellipticoin. This will mean at the launch of phase II you’ll be able to trade and transfer all ERC20s and Bitcoin instantly and cheaply all while maintaining custody of your coins. That’s when things get interesting. Keep an eye out for the launch of Phase II in late summer early fall 2020.

In the meantime we’re going to disable the wallet at wallet.ellipticoin.org so we can focus on building phase II. We are however also going to keep phase I of the network running in the background so we can continue to iterate on the user experience of onboarding and continue to find and squash bugs. If you’re interested in early access and helping us test our onboarding experience message us in Telegram and we can help get you set up!