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Monero Upgrade Successful: Improved ASIC Resistance, Security, and Privacy

Monero successfully completed a scheduled protocol upgrade (hard fork) on Mar. 9th. The upgrade includes tweaks to the PoW algorithm for better ASIC-resistance, changes to mitigate big bang attacks, and increased transaction homogeneity to further improve privacy.

Monero, one of the leading privacy coins, has successfully completed a scheduled protocol upgrade today. Although the update contains nearly a million updates, three stand out.

First, the upgrade tweaks Monero’s proof-of-work algorithm, CryptoNight-R, to curb ASICs currently on the network and to further preserve ASIC resistance. As a result, miners will need to update their software.

Second, the upgrade addresses an edge-case attack termed a big bang attack, where an attacker spamming transactions (or rapid adoption) could cause an “exponential increase in [the computer] resource requirements… that would exceed the capacities of the extant Monero infrastructure on the scale of hours,” according to a Dr. Mitchell Krawiec-Thayer, founder of Noncesense Research Lab, in a write up on the Monero GitHub.

The issue arises from how Monero structures its block-size limit. The block size limit for Monero is set to an average (median) of the last 100 blocks. With a two minute block time, that means that the block size can increase exponentially when the network is under stress.

In less than two days the block size could grow to 10 TB and knock off “almost all” full nodes from the network, according to Thayer. The update today addresses these issues with some changes to the block size algorithm that mitigate these issues.

The third changes are improvements in transaction “homogeneity, or sameness. The update introduces dummy encrypted data to each transaction making it even harder for blockchain analytics to determine the source of a payment, further increasing privacy.

All of the changes discussed above, according to the Monero GitHub were “deemed safe to apply” by the Monero Research Lab.

Note, the changes consittute a “hard fork,” meaning clients running old versions of the software will need to upgrade to remain functional; Users must upgrade their wallets and miners to the newest version.

Once again the Monero community continues to build and improve its software to create a “fast, private, and secure” digital cash.

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