Bitcoin released a new software version 0.16.3 once it was found that a critical bug plagued the previous software. The threat was first introduced in the version 0.14.0 that was released in March 2017, however, it was not until a couple of days back that the vulnerability was first discovered. The developers wasted no time and released an updated version of the software in 24 hours.
The vulnerability was found to be ‘Denial-of-Service’ bug. And as the characteristics of such vulnerability go, had the capacity to wipe out nodes or derail a significant portion of the network in the worst case scenario.
Though the threat was pertinent, however, it’s only the ‘miners’ who could have exploited the situation by double spending on a transaction and putting it on a block. But this too, they would have performed at their own peril as any attack from them would have put them at the risk of losing the block reward of around $75000 as per current valuation.
Famous computer scientist Leslie Lamport stated that a vulnerability originates from a distributed system’s computer wherein other partakers are found to not even be aware of the existence of this vulnerability. This can lead to an individual’s computer being unusable and is perhaps the threat that makes the bug such a potential danger. Though the Bitcoin developers have assured the users of no further threats to the network, they have, at the same time urged the users to upgrade to the latest version of the software.
The ‘Lightning Network’ which many of the users use on the Bitcoin platform is still in its infancy. Holding the Bitcoins in the experimental layer, the network requires constant ‘watching of the channels’. Hence Blockstream engineer Gregory Sanders urged on Reddit that it is imperative to upgrade to the latest version of the software fix or close the lightning channels. Thankfully, upgrading is the easiest and the safest option.
The severity of these kinds of bug discoveries is not due to the inherent vulnerability that exists in the network but rather their non-disclosure. Luke Dashjr, one of Bitcoin’s core contributors argued that to prevent any such future attack,s the disclosure of all the existing vulnerabilities in the network is an absolute must.