With the constant denial of services attacks on Ethereum wallet, the developers have suggested a protocol upgrade. This will be known as the EIP150 Hard Fork, and the developers have already confirmed that it is coming.
Starting coding for EIP 150 myself: https://t.co/KDX0kJ5OXT
— Vitalik Buterin (@VitalikButerin) October 8, 2016
For those new to Ethereum, it is a public blockchain-based distributed computing platform, featuring smart contract functionality. It provides a decentralized virtual machine, the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), that can execute peer-to-peer contracts using a cryptocurrency called ether.
Better than weekly hotfixes
For the past few weeks, the attacker(s) have been exploiting various issues with the Ethereum client. The developers then consistently respond with a quick hotfix to address the issue, only to have the network go down again hours later due to another attack vector being exploited. This left users very unhappy, since Ethereum nodes would crash every few hours as memory usage piled up on servers. Transactions would take hours or days to complete.
Despite the Ethereum bug bounty, the attackers have persisted. Some have speculated that the attackers may be a miner taking advantage of the situation, while others believe that the attacker acts to harm Ethereum.
Many releases for hotfixes have been released for the past month, including versions from 1.4.12 to 1.4.17 (that’s 5 releases this month just for these attack vectors) without much success in stopping the attacker(s) from slowing down the network. The community is hoping that the planned EIP150 hard forks will serve as a permanent solution to the recent attacks.
EIP150 Hard Fork Strategy
Vitalik Buterin has explained the changes to the Ethereum wallet EIP150 hard fork in this post. It basically involves changing the cost to make calls in smart contracts by 5-20x the previous amount. More intensive IO operations get a bigger boost in gas prices. As a result, the attacker will no longer be able to spam the network by making an enormous amount of opcode calls. It seeks to alleviate the current severity by up to 20x.
A number of people have suggested a market for gas prices rather than setting constants, but it is unlikely we’ll see any development on that end for quite some time. Vitalik suggests that there is much research to be done before anything like this can be implemented. Still, the changes are expected to be highly effective at addressing the current short-term problems Ethereum faces.
No Real Controversy, Expected to go smoothly
Unlike the DAO hard fork, this one is expected to go very smoothly. There is little opposition to it, as only the protocol specifications are being changed – for the better. The previous hard fork was made for very different reasons, after all. While the upcoming Ethereum wallet hard fork highly supported by the Ethereum community, there are a few people who seem to misunderstand the situation. It is no surprise after all, that a hard fork is a heavy term to throw around – especially since the last hard fork controversy is still fresh in our minds.
The hard fork for Ethereum wallet is planned for block 2463000 and specification 1c will be deployed, which will be in about half a week. The developers are currently testing the changes.