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Bitcoin testnet griefing attack draws ire from developers

Casa CSO claims credit for Bitcoin testnet griefing attack that generated 165K blocks in a week

Jameson Lopp claimed credit for a griefing attack on the Bitcoin testnet that generated 165,000 blocks in one week, equal to three years worth, shown on a computer screen.

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Jameson Lopp, co-founder and Chief Security Officer of the crypto self-custody platform Casa, has claimed responsibility for a griefing attack on the Bitcoin testnet network that disrupted its normal functioning.

A griefing attack involves intentionally spamming transactions on a network, increasing its workload and disrupting its usual operations, often frustrating other network users without necessarily providing financial benefit to the attacker.

In a post on the decentralized social media platform Nostr, Lopp stated:

“My griefing attack on Bitcoin testnet has resulted in over 165,000 blocks (3 years worth) generated in the past week. 😏”

Hashrate and block difficulty data on the Bitcoin network testnet showed hashrate spiking to 2,315 TH/s on April 19, before gradually returning to 346 TH/s on April 28. Asked by commentators whether the griefing attack was worth doing, Lopp responded that the whole operation only cost him $1 worth of electricity to run.

While the Bitcoin testnet itself did not tide over any significant harm from Lopp’s griefing attack, some figures in the crypto community thought that the attack was misplaced, resulting to wasted time for Bitcoin app developers.

Lopp claimed that the “testnet shenanigans” proved how “scammers [who are] running exchanges and trading testnet tokens for real value” noticed the discrepancies almost immediately when he began the attack. On the contrary, Lopp pointed out that actual Bitcoin developers who were working with legitimate tests only noticed it by the time that he claimed responsibility. Lopp went on to say that Bitcoin developers should consider the attack as a “free stress test” on the network, drawing ire from the crypto community.

Lopp’s griefing attack interrupted node syncing on the Bitcoin testnet, resulting in thousands of new blocks per hour. This prompted developers like Leo Weese, technical lead at Lightning Labs, to suggest that permissionless testnets should be abandoned.

Weese’s response may indicate that new parameters on who has access to test networks on Bitcoin could be set after developers agree on adjustments.

Lopp later responded that he will be publishing an essay with full details, defending his actions as something that shouldn’t have “come as a surprise” given that he sent a warning email to the Bitcoin development mailing list weeks prior to the griefing attack.

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