Ethereum challenges hackers to attack the proposed Eth 2.0 networks

The Ethereum Foundation (EF) has launched public „attack networks“ for Ethereum 2.0 based on existing stable customers.

The networks are designed to provide security researchers with an isolated space environment where they can attempt to violate the Ethereum 2.0 networks by exploiting potential client problems. Currently, there are two „beta-0“ attack networks based on the Lighthouse and Prysm clients, built respectively by Sigma Prime and Prysmatic Labs.

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According to the announcement published on Monday, the attack networks are „real networks“, although they have some limitations. It should be noted that only four nodes have been implemented in the network with 128 validators, compared to the thousands expected for Ethereum 2.0.

The repositories are also not enabled, which means that hackers will need to „test attacks not validated for this run“.

The objective of the attackers is to „avoid the target for 16 consecutive epochs“ on a single network „by any means necessary“. What this means is that the exploit will need to make the Ethereum 2.0 network unusable and unsafe for at least 102 minutes, or 1 hour and 42 minutes.

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Each epoch consists of 32 slots during which blocks can be proposed. Each slot lasts 12 seconds and is approximately equivalent to the blocking time under optimal conditions. At the end of each epoch, the validators are reorganized to maintain the security of the network.

Individual hackers and specific groups will be entitled to a $5,000 reward for successfully breaking into the network in this manner. Each network has its own reward, although a single entity can only receive one.

Ethereum 2.0 still in progress
In recent months, progress on Phase 0 of Ethereum 2.0 has accelerated, and the teams recently launched a new multi-client test network (testnet) on the new 0.12.1 specification, called Altona. The testnet promises to be the last major „devnet“ aimed primarily at developers before a full-scale testnet for the general public.

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Attack networks are an important part of that transition, as they encourage others to find potential vulnerabilities and problems that simple tests are unlikely to reveal.

However, other factors could diminish public optimism. For example, some customer development teams appear to be behind schedule, and their nodes are unable to join shared test networks.

In addition, the community has to decide what will determine whether the main Ethereum 2.0 network is ready, after months of waiting while the systems continue to be battle-tested.

Justin Drake, an Ethereum 2.0 researcher, postulated that the most likely release date for the mainnet would be January 2021, after several months of testing and vacation accounting. However, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Immediate Edge, disagreed and argued that Phase 0 should be launched in 2020, even if some caution is sacrificed.