The Ethereum community has reached a consensus on the hard fork as a move to undo the 1.5 million ether (ETH) heist perpetrated by an unknown attacker against The Dao last June 17, with 97% of ETH holders voting for the hard fork.
The hard fork would enable the refund of all the ETH the attacker drained into a child Dao—which has since been frozen into what is now referred to as Dark Dao, currently valued at around $15 million (after a huge price drop since the heist). This would happen without compromising other unrelated transactions because it does not roll back any blocks or transactions that have already been carried out.
To be clear, it wasn’t Ethereum itself that had a loophole. The Dao is an independent organization built on the Ethereum blockchain, and the error came from within a smart contract running in Ethereum.
While the rest of the Ethereum community is safe (as far as we know), it requires the whole Ethereum community of ETH holders to cement any decision—the reason why this is a big deal not only to the Dao (which holds around 10% of all ETH in existence) and to those whose ETH was stolen is because the rules of Ethereum dictate that votes by the majority are required to approve decisions—and one person holding that much ETH can be potentially disastrous.
To an outsider, it would seem pretty obvious that the decision should be to invalidate the transactions made by the thief…that this should not even be a question, but an automatic decision.
But technicalities made things more complex: Some argue that implementing the refund of these transactions goes against the very promise of decentralization—a point that Peter Vessenes, co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Bitcoin Foundation, counters.
“Don’t confuse consensus by miners with centralization. The Ethereum project has a plan for consensus, and the public debate we see today is part of that consensus-building plan. To come to agreement is not centralization,” he wrote in his site.
He goes on to clarify that this will not be a precedent that would yield a call back anytime someone calls foul on something in the future.
“Imagine how hard it would be to get a patch approved, pushed out to mining pools and to get them to reach consensus about a less clear-cut issue. It’s just not happening in most circumstances. And, mining pools will get ‘issue fatigue’ as well.”
He does warn that the implementation of the hard fork may not be the end of it, and outlines possible ways the thief (or thieves) could retaliate, such as a “replay” attack, among others.
Should the hard fork fail (let’s hope not), a vigilante group called the Robin Hood Group vows to battle the thief.
The hard fork has to be activated before July 21st, otherwise, the thief can split, and the money would be gone forever. For now, all we can do is wait for the implementation of the hard fork and see what happens next.