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51% attack mining proof-of-work

Breaking Down Proof-of-Work Mining and 51% Attacks

Written By Ivan on Tech

Jun 12, 2020

Proof-of-work blockchain networks rely on decentralized mining for consensus and for protection from double-spending. Bad actors may try to gain a large proportion of the network hashpower to engage in what’s known as a 51% Attack. By controlling a majority of hashpower the double-spending protection can be overcome. We review proof-of-work mining and the ways that blockchains can remain safe from 51% attacks. 

Blockchain Network Basics 

Let’s step back a moment and review the structure and workings of a permissionless, distributed, proof- of-work blockchain to learn how 51% attacks are possible. 

Distributed blockchain networks consist of many computers running the same code while connected to each other via the Internet. Each computer is called a node and nodes can be located anywhere in the world. 

The biggest networks have thousands of nodes with each node carrying a full copy of the entire blockchain. All nodes are in constant communication with...

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