Dash Developer Discusses ‘ChainLocks’ To Protect Against 51% Attacks

Dash developer Alexander Block recently discussed a new protection mechanism against 51% mining attacks, dubbed ChainLocks, in a blog post. Block wrote that the introduction of Long Living Masternode Quorums (LLMQ’s) gives Dash the ability to implement ChainLocks, which is part of the new Dash Improvement Proposal (DIP) 8.

Details and information about ChainLocks emerged to serve as an answer to questions about how the cryptocurrency would combat 51% attacks.

Working To Thwart 51% Attacks

In the post, Block explained that the premise behind ChainLocks is to leverage LLMQ’s in order to have blocks be signed as they are seen by the network. This will purportedly help prevent attacks and any attempts by those looking to reverse transactions. ChainLocks would also incentivize miners to publish blocks immediately, according to the blog post.

The developer also noted ChainLocks is only secure with a “Sybil protected network of semi-trusted nodes,” which means a coin without these types of nodes will not be able to roll out a system like ChainLocks.

The requirement of 1000 Dash (roughly $90,000) per masternode reportedly makes it impractical from an economic standpoint to carry out a Sybil attack. The post explained an attacker “would have to buy at least 60% of all Masternodes to get a realistic chance of success.” Overall, Block said the “unique and powerful network infrastructure” of ChainLocks would make it possible to roll out “more innovative features on top of LLMQs.”

Remaining Popular In Venezuela

Dash remains a popular cryptocurrency among Venezuelan citizens. CryptoGlobe reported on the official launch of Dash Text in the country back in early November. The platform allows users to send and receive payments in Dash. It is particularly notable since it can run without the use of a smartphone or the internet.

According to Dash Text, 47% of the country's population lacks access to the internet, while 60% do now own smartphones. Speculation is that Dash Text’s features, as a result, would be useful to a population struggling in the midst of immense economic difficulties.

Bitcoin ‘Sextortion’ Scheme Netted Cybercriminals Over $330,000

Blackmailers have reportedly managed to rake in over $330,000 worth of bitcoin, the flagship cryptocurrency, through an email-based ‘sextortion’ campaign that has been ongoing since at least 2017, and saw its activity surge last year.

According to a report published by UK firm Digital Shadows, the cybercriminals received said amount from over 3,100 unique BTC addresses. The funds ended up in 92 different bitcoin addresses believe to belong to the same organization, that could reportedly be making an average of $540 per victim.

The firm’s report, first spotted by The Next Web, tracked a sample of 792,000 emails sent to victims. The ‘sextortionists’ reportedly sent them an email that would include a known password as “proof” they hacked them, and claimed to have video evidence of them seeing adult content online.

The threat was that the video would be published online, if a ransom in BTC wasn’t paid. Last year, Cornell University computer science professor Emin Gün Sirer warned potential victims to “never pay, never negotiate” with cybercriminals trying to extort them.

Per Sirer, the emails were being sent to every email account on the popular website haveibeenpwned, which shows whether emails addresses had their data leaked on well-known online security incidents.

A Sophisticated Operation

The UK firm’s report seems to show the ‘sextortion’ operation was a sophisticated one, as scammers were seemingly trying to hire more people to help them target high-net-work individuals.

These hires could be getting high salaries, up to $768,000 a year, if they had experience in network management, penetration testing, and programming. The cybercriminals have notably also been using social media to target their victims.

The scammers’ capabilities are said to have varied in skill, as while some struggled to distribute a large amount of emails that could get past email server or spam filters, others managed to show high levels of sophistication, with emails sent from accounts specifically created for the campaigns.

Moreover, these campaigns were launched on a global scale, as the servers the emails came from were in five different continents. The highest amount of emails came from Vietnam, Brazil, and India. These servers could, however, have been compromised by the scammers as well.