In a recent article in The Australian, they took an in depth look at the problems the Bitcoin network has been having, as well as an estimate on how long it might take to fix everything and get things back to normal. Some are saying that it could take a week or more to fix all the software problems and get the Bitcoin network running regularly again – without fear of hackers causing problems. There’s a good chance a lot of smart people are already looking at ways to avoid the problem that happened recently.
We’ve wrote about it in this blog before – just last week in fact – but it’s important enough to warrant another look. Basically, it all dealt with the way Bitcoin transactions are handled. As you may or may not know, everything is timed so that a block of transactions is verified roughly every ten minutes. This short lag gave nefarious hackers enough time to flood the network with slightly altered receipts. Because of this, many Bitcoin Exchanges – including MtGox – decided to shutdown withdrawals from their exchange until a fix was worked out.
It all began last Monday when it was discovered that the Bitcoin code contained a bug that allowed people to send false information about a transaction that didn’t exist. By the next morning, word of the bug exploit had spread around the Internet and the attacks commenced. This is what caused a lot of the major Bitcoin Exchanges to shutdown withdrawals temporarily while the lead programmer for the Bitcoin code looked for a way to solve the problem. This person is Gavin Andresen, the chief scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation.
He’s not alone in his quest. Five other talented programmers are also working to solve the problem and plug the exploit before more damage to the Bitcoin network can be done. One of the members of the team – Jeff Garzik of BitPay – has already come up with a solution for other Bitcoin Exchanges to clear their registry of false data sent by hackers trying to take advantage of the bug in the code. This should help some exchanges resume business, but it doesn’t fix the problem in the underlying code that caused all the headaches in the first place. And this is what they’re working on now.
MtGox – as usual – has been really silent on the matter, releasing no public statement about the lack of withdrawals on their website. Meanwhile, competitor market BitStamp resumed BTC to cash withdrawals over the weekend after putting measures in place to prevent fraud. The current market cap of Bitcoin is around $8 billion USD, which means a lot of people are interested in knowing whether or not they have access to their funds stored as Bitcoin.
One of the problems Andresen and his team have been running into is the barrage of requests for information and updates by various Bitcoin exchanges around the world. This has slowed them down a bit as they try to respond to as many people as they can while still investigating the original bug and trying to squash it once and for all – or at least until another one is found. Perfect software is hard to come by these days in the Information Age.
He told The Australian that he’s concerned with not doing a sloppy job with the fix – something that’s going to take a little time. This is why some are saying it may take another week or so for all the problems to be dealt with and new versions of the Bitcoin software to be downloaded and used. If you ask us, we think it’s important that Andresen and his team of highly skilled programmers are given enough time to fix the problem right. Any bugs in the Bitcoin software are not acceptable – especially if Bitcoin is going to grow in popularity in the future.
If you have any opinions about the recent Bitcoin bug that was found, feel free to leave us a comment and share your opinion. When it comes to news or opinion about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, we have you covered here at Bitcoin Basics 101. We really care about informing our readers and making it easy and safe to learn more about Bitcoin and how to get the most from the burgeoning technology. No one can predict the future with 100% accuracy, but if you pay attention to the news and what’s happening, you’re going to have a clearer idea of what’s coming up on the horizon.