Category Archives: Bitcoin Core

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Bitcoin Core 0.16.3 Includes Double Spend Critical Bug Fix

The newest version of the primary Bitcoin wallet software, Bitcoin Core 0.16.3, has been released as of 18 September 2018. This new version eliminates a critical double spend bug that had the potential to crash all Bitcoin Core versions that have the bug. Bitcoin Core is the wallet software used to run 94% of Bitcoin’s full nodes, so upgrading to the new version is important for the health of Bitcoin’s network.

Apparently, since Bitcoin Core 0.14.0, a bug was accidentally introduced where someone could spend the same input twice in a single transaction. Were this broadcast to the network, every Bitcoin Core client receiving the transaction would crash. This bug could not be exploited by anyone, however, only by a miner who finds a block. If a miner double spends in a block they would surrender their 12.5 Bitcoin mining reward, a significant sum of money worth nearly USD 80,000. However, a bad actor willing to lose that much to harm the network could crash 90% of Bitcoin’s full nodes.

The only full nodes that wouldn’t crash were those running the latest version or versions earlier than 0.14.0, or a type of full node software that is not Bitcoin Core. As of this writing on 19 September, only about 1,250 Bitcoin nodes have upgraded to Bitcoin Core 0.16.3, which helps the situation, although it remains a critical problem. There are fewer than 10,000 Bitcoin full nodes and if this bug were to be exploited, especially now that people know about it, it could cause that number to plummet to about 2,000 full nodes.

Although it is worrisome that this critical bug existed in the Bitcoin Core wallet software for so long, it has never been exploited and is now fixed. There is some controversy about this situation, with some people saying it shows the weakness of Bitcoin Core, although it actually demonstrates how the Bitcoin Core team can respond to bugs and fix them in a timely fashion.

 

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New Version of Bitcoin Core 0.16.1 Released

A new version of Bitcoin Core, 0.16.1, has been officially released by a group of 19 Bitcoin Core developers on 15 June 2018. This is the first update to Bitcoin Core since 0.16.0 in February 2018 which implemented full support for Segregated Witness (SegWit) to fit more transactions into blocks and reduce transaction fees.

In this update, the “blockmaxsize” option has been removed, and now miners should use “blockmaxweight” if they want to limit block size. Several other bugs are fixed in addition to some policy and documentation changes which can be found in the PGP signed 0.16.1 release notes. Basically, there aren’t any major changes to Bitcoin Core with this release, but it is important to be running the latest software, so Bitcoin Core users should update to 0.16.1.

Bitcoin Core is the technology that actually runs the Bitcoin network, each computer that runs Bitcoin Core is considered a node, and the more computers that run Bitcoin Core the more decentralized Bitcoin becomes. Currently, 10,000 computers are running Bitcoin nodes in the entire world, a surprisingly low number.

Bitcoin Core is perhaps the best wallet software to use since it downloads the entire blockchain making it fully self-sufficient, so if a user has an internet connection with a fully downloaded Bitcoin Core, they will be able to transact bitcoins and don’t have to worry about 3rd party servers malfunctioning or going offline. It gives full control of the private key to users without storing the private key anywhere else, which is essential for keeping Bitcoin safe.

46% of nodes are running version 0.16.0, 22% are running 0.15.1, and 2.5% are running the newly released 0.16.1. Wallets running Bitcoin Core 0.16.0 and 0.16.1 are not backward compatible with earlier versions, so wallets created with this software will not work in older versions of Bitcoin Core. However, wallets created by older versions are not affected.

The Bitcoin Core developers that contributed to 0.16.1 include 251, Ben Woosley, Chun Kuan Lee, David A. Harding, e0, fanquake, Henrik Jonsson, Jeremy Rand, Jessy Cohen, John Newbery, Johnson Lau, Karl-Johan Alm, Luke Dashjr, Marco Falke, Matt Corallo, Pieter Wuille, Suhas Daftaur, Tamas Blummer, and Wladimir J. van der Laan.

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