For the last several months, cryptocurrency news coverage has been dominated by headlines about bitcoin. That’s understandable, as bitcoin is the biggest name in the cryptocurrency industry. At the same time, major developments on that other major blockchain — Ethereum — have gotten substantially less coverage. As the blockchain network that drives countless ERC-20 tokens, DApps, smart contracts, and other next-generation technology, it’s always worth keeping an eye on the latest Ethereum updates.
In this post, we take a look at five recent Ethereum stories you may have missed.
1. ‘Istanbul’ upgrade will break hundreds of smart contracts. Last week, Ethereum developers began testing the system-wide Istanbul upgrade on the Ropsten test network. The upgrade is intended to improve Ethereum’s future scalability, including major changes to how gas payments are calculated. One side effect of this change is that hundreds of existing smart contracts on networks such as Kyber and Aragon will, as one developer put it, “run out of gas.” The extent of the problem is unknown, but smart contracts play an essential role in decentralized applications (DApps) and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), meaning that the upgrade will no doubt create a serious headache for developers in the coming months.
2. ‘Istanbul’ causes blockchain fork on Ethereum testnet. Smart contracts aren’t the only casualties of the new upgrade. Ethereum Foundation community manager Hudson Jameson revealed yesterday that the Ropsten testnet briefly experienced a hard fork, temporarily splitting the blockchain. The testnet upgrade was scheduled for Oct. 2, but accidentally occurred two days early due to faster-than expected block confirmations. Many miners had not yet upgraded to Istanbul, splitting the test version of the Ethereum blockchain. Though the fork only lasted a few hours, it caused substantial problems for DApps and other projects built using the testnet. The event could be a preview of issues developers and miners will face when Istanbul goes live on the Ethereum mainnet later this year.
3. Seized ETH sold for £240,000 by UK police. In 2018, 19-year old hacker Elliott Gunton was arrested after trying to sell stolen customer data from trading platform EtherDelta. In the process, police seized Gunton’s ETH wallet, then valued at $337,000. (The amount in ETH has not been publicized.) On Monday, the UK police’s Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) sold the seized ETH supply for £240,000 ($294,000). The auction’s winner was not announced to the public.
4. SKALE Network raises $17.1 million. One of the major driving forces behind the Istanbul upgrade is the urgent need for scalability on the Ethereum network. As the blockchain of choice for many high-profile DApps, including an increasing number of mobile games, many developers are concerned that Ethereum’s primary blockchain won’t be able to handle a boom in activity. SKALE is one high-profile attempt to create a Layer 2 platform to address this need, sharing many similarities with bitcoin’s Lightning Network. On Tuesday, SKALE Network revealed that it has raised $17.1 million to develop their solution, including investments from Winklevoss Capital, ConsenSys Labs, and Arrington XRP Capital. To date, over 40 firms have reportedly invested in SKALE.
5. Hacker exploits auction bug to claim Apple.eth domain. In September, an auction for domain names on the Ethereum Naming Service (ENS) — a decentralized version of DNS — was held by digital marketplace OpenSea. Hackers exploited a flaw in OpenSea’s auction software that allowed them to claim 17 domain names — including apple.eth, pay.eth, and wallet.eth — without winning the auctions. Even worse, because the names are permanently transferred via the ENS blockchain, OpenSea has no way to reverse the transfers. As a result, OpenSea has asked the hackers to return the domains so that they can be auctioned off again, and is offering them 25% of the winning auction price.