The statement follows claims made by Israeli researchers that F2Pool had manipulated Ethereum block timestamps to increase mining earnings.
Chun Wang, a co-founder of F2Pool, has replied to claims that his mining pool has tampered with Ethereum block timestamps in order to “consistently increase mining rewards.”
The mining pool is accused of conducting a “consensus-level” attack on Ethereum over the past two years in order to gain an advantage over “honest” miners, according to claims made in a study published on August 5 by researchers at The Hebrew University.
Wang, in response, implied that willfully abusing the system’s rules doesn’t always constitute a rule violation by writing on Twitter, “we respect the *consensus* as is”
A “consensus-level attack” on Ethereum, in which miners like F2Pool have discovered a technique to modify block timestamps in order to regularly obtain better mining rewards than mining “honestly,” was first shown, according to the researchers, earlier this week.
The research paper, which was written by computer scientist Aviv Zohar, Gilad Stern, and cryptocurrency lecturer Aviv Yaish, claims that the Ethereum mining pool F2Pool was one of the miners who had been employing this timestamp manipulation technique.
“Although most mining pools produce relatively inconspicuous-looking blocks, F2Pool blatantly disregards the rules and uses false timestamps for its blocks,” said Yaish, adding that the mining pool has been executing the attack over the last two years.
Wang also gave the impression that he accepted Yaish’s testimony, which suggested that the timestamp alteration was done on purpose.
A geographically dispersed mining pool called F2Pool mostly mines blocks on the networks for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
How the “attack” works
The researchers claim that Ethereum’s current proof-of-work (POW) consensus laws have a flaw that allows miners “some degree of freedom” when setting timestamps, allowing for the creation of erroneous timestamps.
“For example, a miner can start mining a block now, but set the block’s timestamp to actually be 5 seconds in the past, or 10 seconds in the future. As long as this timestamp is within a certain reasonable bound, the block will still be considered valid, according to Ethereum’s consensus laws.”
These miners have an advantage in a “tie-breaking” situation because they can replace another miner’s blocks of the same block height by setting bogus timestamps that are low enough to make mining the block more challenging.
The vulnerability may, however, be fixed after Ethereum switches to proof-of-stake (POS) with the forthcoming Merge on September 19, which employs a different set of consensus rules, the researchers added.
“An obvious mitigation technique which will solve both this attack and any other PoW-related one, is to migrate Ethereum’s consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake (PoS).”
“Other solutions which might be smaller in scope and thus easier to implement are to adopt better fork-choosing rules, use reliable timestamps, or avoid using timestamps for difficulty adjustments altogether,” the researchers added.