Last night, we all went to bed in a world where there were only two Bitcoins, which is arguably already too many. This morning, after a "hard fork" that cloned Bitcoin's code and created another version, we all woke up to three: Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and the newest version, Bitcoin Gold. I need a nap.
Bitcoin Gold, unlike the other Bitcoins, aims to allow any schmoe with some computer gaming hardware to "mine" digital coins for a reward. But anonymous developers and private code have made Bitcoin Gold more contentious than even Bitcoin Cash. It's perhaps for these reasons that almost as soon as the fork went live, someone launched a denial of service attack against Bitcoin Gold's website, knocking it offline.
"Massive DDoS attack on our cloud site," stated a tweet from the Bitcoin Gold Twitter account at roughly 4 AM. "10M requests per minute. We are working with the providers to ban all the IPs. We will be up soon!"
This likely means that a network of hijacked computers (or these days, possibly internet-connected appliances) is accessing the Bitcoin Gold site 10 million times a minute in order to block out legitimate traffic. It's big, but not really massive compared to other attacks. In the Bitcoin Gold Slack channel, community representatives stated that most of the attacking IP addresses came from China.
Hours later, at 8 AM, Bitcoin Gold tweeted that the attack had been "handled" but that "it will take a bit more time" for the site to be operating normally. At the time of writing, the website is still down.
The road ahead for the latest version of Bitcoin looks shaky at best. The team has given itself a soft deadline of November 1 to "launch" the coin properly by releasing the code and allowing people to mine it. At this time people will also receive a mirror balance of their Bitcoin in Bitcoin Gold. Normally, as in the Bitcoin Cash fork, these things are all taken care of before the fork, and not after.
Bitcoin Gold futures are currently trading at $117.50 USD per coin on Bitfinex, a cryptocurrency exchange. The price of Bitcoin took a slight hit after the fork, losing roughly $300 of its nearly $6,000 per-coin value.
Regardless, the smell of digital money is in the air, and so it seems like some people are rallying around Bitcoin Gold despite the DDoS attack.
With another fork down, the attention of the Bitcoin community is likely to turn to the next (and fourth) planned fork of this year alone, tentatively called Segwit2x. That fork is scheduled for November and has some major players on board, such as mining giant Bitmain and developer Jeff Garzik, which may make it more or less dramatic than the Bitcoin Gold fork because nobody knows what's going to happen next in Bitcoin.
Or, I guess, Bitcoin Gold.
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