Ethereum's Developers Schedule Constantinople Hard Fork for Late February

  • Ethereum's (ETH) Constantinople hard fork postponed to around February 27, 2019 due to security issue found when upgrading network on January 15.
  • Ethereum's difficulty adjustments appear to be working as the network's hashrate is now recovering.

Péter Szilágyi, an Ethereum (ETH) core developer and team lead, announced via Twitter, on January 18, thatEthereum’s Constantinople upgrade might be activated at block number 7,280,000.



Security Issues With Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1283

Constantinople, which is a hard fork update to Ethereum’s blockchain, was initially scheduled for January 16, however it was rolled back due to security issues in ethereum improvement proposal (EIP) 1283.

Szilágyi, who earned his Phd in computer systems networking from Romania’s Babes-Bolyai University, explained the Constantinople “refork” has now been scheduled for February 27, 2019. This, after blockchain security firm ChainSecurity revealed it found a critical vulnerability in Ethereum’s codebase modifications that were to be activated with the Constantinople update.

According to ChainSecurity, the software bug could have left some smart contracts vulnerable to attacks. The vulnerability could have also led to a loss of funds. Soon after, ChainSecurity sent out an alert regarding the bug, and Ethereum’s development team decided to delay the Constantinople upgrade.

Explaining how the Ethereum hard fork will be initiated next month, Szilágyi said there “will be a single fork on mainnet and a post-Constantinople-fixup fork on the testnets to get them back in line feature wise with the main network.”

Ethereum's Difficulty Bomb

As CryptoGlobe reported, a significant number of full-node operators had already activated Constantinople. However, they had to revert to the previous version of Ethereum’s codebase to avoid being forked out of consensus. Ethereum network’s block number 7,080,000, which was the point when Constantinople was expected to go live, has now passed without any issues.

There are, however, other technical challenges that Ethereum’s network must handle, including the so-called “difficulty bomb”. In October 2017, the difficulty bomb was postponed until 3 million additional blocks were mined. This delay was programmed when Ethereum’s Byzantium hard fork was activated at block height 4,370,000. Almost three million additional blocks have now been mined since Byzantium, and the difficulty bomb appears to be in effect.

As a result of the difficulty bomb, average block times on Ethereum appear to be increasing. 

Transitioning To Proof-of-Stake (PoS)

Ethereum’s developers have designed the difficulty bomb in order to exponentially increase mining difficulty. This will effectively make mining ETH impossible and this is when the Ethereum blockchain is expected to transition to a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism.

According to calculations performed by blockchain developer, Níckolas Goline the Ethereum network could see block times of around 60 seconds on February 27, which is also when Constantinople is scheduled to be activated. These estimates are based on the Ethereum network’s current mining difficulty level and hashrate trends. Should block times become this slow, then Ethereum-based decentralized applications (dApps) may be negatively affected.

According to available data, Ethereum’s hashrate has decreased by roughly 44% last year, from its peak in August 2017.

Peter Schiff Admits to Entering PIN Instead of Password for His Blockchain Wallet

Siamak Masnavi

On Wednesday (January 22), famous gold bug Peter Schiff finally admitted that he lost access to the bitcoin held in his Blockchain Wallet because he had misunderstood how this wallet works. However, not all the blame for this incident should be pointed to Schiff.

Schiff is the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, a full-service, registered broker/dealer specializing in foreign markets and securities, and founder and Chairman of SchiffGold, a full-service, discount precious metals dealer. He is also a man who is extremely bullish on gold, bearish on the U.S. dollar, and highly skeptical about Bitcoin.

On 4 July 2019, Schiff revealed that he owned some Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and said that he was going to HODL his bitcoin no matter what happens to the Bitcoin price.

Then, last Sunday (January 19), Schiff took to Twitter to express his anger with Bitcoin after allegedly losing access to the crypto wallet that holds his bitcoin:

Although Schiff said at the time that the wallet app he was using -- which we know know was the iOS version of Blockchain Wallet (made by -- had "somehow" become "corrupted" and that is why his password -- which he was sure of remembering correctly -- was being rejected, most people in CryptoTwitter seemed to believe that this was just a case of a "boomer" who has simply forgotten his wallet's password:

Eric Voorhees, Founder and CEO of ShapeShift, whom Schiff claims was the person who set up Schiff's wallet in the first place, says that it is Schiff who is to blame (and not Bitcoin) for forgetting his password and not making a note of his wallet's recovery phrase:

However, last night (January 22), three days after first reporting the loss of access to his entire Bitcoin holdings (which had mostly been gifted to him by members of the crypto community on Twitter), Schiff admitted that this situation was not due to a corrupt wallet but the fact that he had been confused about the concepts of PIN and password for his Blockchain Wallet; what made things worse was that he did not know/have neither the password nor the 12-word backup/recovery phrase: 

Having spent some time playing with the Blockchain Wallet, here is one possible explanation for what really happened. 

When you create a new Blockchain Wallet, you are asked to specify an email address (which acts as your username), a password (which is needed in case you ever logout or are logged out of your wallet), and a 4-digit PIN (which the wallet apps asks for -- if you have not setup biometric authentication -- whenever it is restarted, in order to "decrypt" your wallet). 

It is essential to note that the Blockchain Wallet does not force the user to record a 12-word or 24-word recovery/seed phrase at the time that the wallet is being created, i.e. this step is optional. After the wallet has been created, you need to go to the app's menu and choose "Backup Funds", at which point you are asked to write down each of the 12 words of the "backup phrase" the app assigns to your wallet.

So, if Schiff is telling the truth about never knowing the password of the backup phrase, then it looks like the person who created the wallet for him (i.e. Vooerhees) may have not told Schiff the wallet's password and not told him to make a note of the backup phrase.

Therefore, we can certainly blame Schiff for not bothering to understand how his wallet works, but it is also true that developers of crypto wallets need to do more to improve wallet usability in order to prepare for the mainstream adoption of crypto.