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Hackers hijack blockchain in rare ‘51% attack’

Unknown hackers may have successfully hijacked the Ethereum Classic blockchain through a so-called “51% attack”.

Cryptocurrency exchanges including Coinbase have frozen trading of the token amid fears that the previously hypothetical attack has been executed.

According to Coinbase, the reorganisation of the blockchain has led to the attacker taking control of tokens worth almost £400,000.

Dr Patrick McCorry, assistant professor of computer science at King’s College London, told Sky News it was important to distinguish Ethereum – the second-largest cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin – and Ethereum Classic, which is in the top 20 and split from Ethereum in 2015.

“The underlying technology of a cryptocurrency, the blockchain, is responsible for recording all transactions on the network,” Dr McCorry explained.

“It gets this name because it is a chain of blocks, and every block is simply a list of authorised transactions.

“In Ethereum Classic, a transaction is only considered ‘final’ and ‘confirmed’ if it is in the blockchain with the most blocks.”

The blockchain is powered by individuals “mining” transactions – using computer power to transmit information to other users – for which they are rewarded with newly minted units of the currency.

Due to these newly minted units of the currency, cryptocurrency mining can potentially be a very profitable business – although the volatility of the currencies and the difficulty of successfully adding a block makes it a risky investment.

The blockchain is intended to be a distributed, transparent, and immutable ledger which uses cryptography to mathematically verify transactions and ensure everyone’s trust in the currency.

However, it has long been theorised that an attacker who controlled more than 51% of the mining on the network could purposefully choose to double-spend certain coins.

In a 51% attack, the attackers would create a fork in the network by transmitting conflicting information to different users – allowing them to send the same coin to multiple parties.

Dr McCorry said: “The issue in a 51% attack is that a single person has more than half the network’s computational power (i.e. they have a much bigger warehouse of computers) and they can create blocks faster than everyone else.

“What happened in Ethereum Classic is that a single person managed to repeat the entire network’s effort for 100 blocks, create a longer blockchain and reverse a transaction that paid out around $500,000,” Dr McCorry explained.

One mining group controlled up to 60% of the Ethereum Classic network during the course of the supposed attack, although investigations are ongoing as to the results of it.

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Law

Senate Inches One Step Closer To Passing Bill Overruling Buhari’s Veto On Budget


A bill to compel the President and state governors to lay their annual budgets before the legislature at most 90 days to end of a fiscal year has passed second reading at the Senate.

The second reading of the bill is the second stage of process. If the bill passes the third reading with the required by two-thirds majority, and it gets the concurrence of the House of Representatives, then it becomes a law.

The bill, The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration, No. 28) Bill, was sponsored by Ike Ekweremadu, the Deputy Senate President, and was presented at plenary by Ahmad Lawan, Majority Leader of the Senate.

Rejected by the President in 2018, the bill, if passed, will return Nigeria to the era of January-December budget cycles, while similarly mandating the National Assembly to pass the budget before commencement of the next financial year.

Buhari had declined assent to the bill on the grounds that Section 2 (b) and 3 (b) of the proposal appears not to appreciate the provisions of Section 58 (4) of the 1999 constitution — an argument dismissed by David Umaru, Chairman of the Senate’s Technical Committee on Declined Assent to Bills.

The bill will ensure that the budget is laid not later than 90 days to the end of a financial year,” Umaru said.

“The legislative intent behind this bill is to ensure that we run a normal financial year. Therefore, the provision of Section 58(4) which Mr. President made reference to, does not apply in this regard.

“On the whole, we respectfully submit that the bill is not in conflict with the provision of Section 58(4) of the Constitution as implied by Mr President. It is, therefore, our concerted view that the Senate should override Mr. President’s veto.”

Section 58(4) of the Constitution being spoken of by the President reads: “Where a bill is presented to the President for assent, he shall within thirty days thereof signify that he assents or that he withholds assent.”

However, Section 58(5) also adds: “Where the President withholds his assent and the bill is again passed by each House by two-thirds majority, the bill shall become law and the assent of the President shall not be required.”

As earlier reported by SaharaReporters, the Senate on Wednesday passed seven of the at least 16 bills rejected so far this year by the President.

The bills are the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB), National Institute for Hospitality and Tourism Bill, National Research and Innovation Council Bill, Stamp Duties Act (Amendment) Bill, National Agricultural Seed Council Bill, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (Amendment) Bill and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill.

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EU issues strong warning to US

The European Union, on Wednesday warned the United States against potential moves that would impact European interests in Cuba.

U.S. media reported earlier that the Trump administration might later on Wednesday reverse waivers which had previously been in place to protect foreign companies from lawsuits in the U.S. for their dealings with Cuba.

There have been years of waivers for a provision in a 1996 domestic law of the U.S., known as the Helms-Burton Act, that safeguarded foreign companies from U.S. lawsuits.

However, the Trump administration will reportedly do away with the waivers, potentially opening foreign businesses including those from Europe to lawsuits.

A spokesman for the European Commission told a briefing in Brussels that “the European Union reiterates its strong opposition to the extraterritorial application of unilateral restrictive measures which it considers contrary to international law.’’

“The EU is ready to protect European interests including European investments and the economic activities of EU individual and entities in their relations with Cuba,’’ he added.

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Ex-President shoots self dead to avoid arrest

Peru’s former President, Alan Garcia died in a hospital in Lima, on Wednesday after shooting himself, as police arrived at his house to arrest him in connection with a bribery probe, authorities said.

Garcia, who had repeatedly denied wrongdoing, was 69, NAN reports.

President Martin Vizcarra said on Twitter that he was “consternated” by Garcia’s death, and sent his condolences to his family members.

Garcia shot himself in the head after police arrived at his home to arrest him in connection with a bribery investigation, the interior ministry said.

“Garcia, 69, underwent emergency surgery at the Casimiro Ulloa hospital and suffered three cardiac arrests,’’ Health Minister Zulema Tomas said in broadcast comments.

Garcia was one of nine people a judge ordered to be arrested in connection with an investigation into bribes distributed by Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction company.

Local TV channel America reported Garcia was in a coma and showed images of his son, supporters and lawmakers arriving at the hospital, where police in riot gear stood by.

A skilled orator who led Peru’s once-powerful Apra party for decades, Garcia governed as a nationalist from 1985 to 1990 before remaking himself as a free-market proponent and winning another five-year term in 2006.

He had denied wrongdoing involving Odebrecht and blamed his legal troubles on political persecution.

“Others might sell out, not me,” Garcia said in broadcast comments on Tuesday, repeating a phrase he has used frequently as his political foes became ensnared in the Odebrecht investigation.

Interior Minister Carlos Moran said at a news conference that Garcia had told police he needed to call his attorney after they arrived at his home in Lima to arrest him.

“He entered his room and closed the door behind him.

“Within a few minutes, a shot from a firearm was heard, and police forcibly entered the room and found Mr. Garcia sitting with a wound in his head,” Moran said.

In 2018, Garcia asked Uruguay for political asylum after he was banned from leaving the country to keep him from fleeing or obstructing the investigation, while Uruguay rejected the request.

Garcia would have been the third former president in Peru to have been jailed in the Odebrecht case.

Ollanta Humala spent nine months in pre-trial detention in 2017 to 2018 and Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was arrested without charges recently.

A fourth former president, Alejandro Toledo, is fighting extradition from California after a judge in Peru ordered him jailed for 18 months in connection with Odebrecht in 2017.

However they have all denied wrongdoing in connection with Odebrecht.

In Peru, criminal suspects can be ordered to spend up to three years in jail before trial if prosecutors can show they have evidence that likely would lead to a conviction and the suspect would likely flee or try to interfere in the investigation.

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