Inflation Bug Still Dangerous for BTC Full Nodes

| Publish date: 05/20/2019

According to data published by Bitcoin (BTC) Core developer Luke Dashjr, over 50% of the Bitcoin network’s full nodes are still running client software that is vulnerable to the inflation bug that had been identified last year in September.

This vulnerability is a threat to the BTC network since it can compromise the fidelity of Bitcoin. And with the digital asset in the middle of a strong price gain, steps need to be taken to find a permanent solution to this bug.

Full Nodes Running Older Versions of Software Client

In a news report published on May, it was revealed that the research conducted by Luke Dashjr showed that about 60% of all full nodes on BTC’s network were vulnerable to this bug.

Since then, that number has dropped a little to 54%. Which means that some full nodes updated their client software with the latest updates.

This bug was discovered in September 2018, which – theoretically – could let miners inflate the total supply of Bitcoin to more than the 21 million BTC by spending multiple UTXOs (unspent transaction outputs) in a single transaction.

Considering the danger this new bug posed, the discovery was kept a secret. Developers quietly published a new version of the software client. However, on September 20, a post appeared on a public forum that revealed this vulnerability

Impact of the Inflation Bug

When asked about how bad the impact of the inflation bug could be, Dashjr stated that this was a network-wide risk. He said that if there were to be a 51% attack on the BTC network, it could cause uncontrolled inflation.

Normally, a 51% attack would not be able to cause inflation, however, due to this vulnerability, it could happen. Dashjr stated that this inflationary chain would be accepted by nodes that are currently vulnerable as well as light wallets.

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With the number of full nodes pegged at about 100,000, this could cause a major disaster for the Bitcoin network.

When asked how this danger could be averted, Dashjr stated that everyone needed to upgrade to a full node.

Contradictory Viewpoint

Jimmy Song, another Bitcoin developer, stated that taking advantage of the inflation bug would be nearly impossible for miners. He said that not every full node ran the BTC core, and that a large number preferred to deploy customized iterations of the BTC client.

This would lead to a dilution of the attack immediately, since nodes not running the BTC core would reject blocks containing UTOXs that were inflated. And if a large enough number of miners rejected the block, then a chain split could occur. This discrepancy would be noticed by developers, who could then prevent the attack going any further.


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