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Bitcoin Network Under Threat: NVD Highlights Serious Inscription Vulnerability

Walter Swift

ByWalter Swift

Dec 12, 2023

On December 9, the National Vulnerability Database (NVD) reported a major security issue in Bitcoin’s inscriptions, affecting the 2022 Ordinals Protocol. This problem could impact Bitcoin’s network and transaction costs.

The NVD, part of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, helps inform the public about cybersecurity risks. This announcement raises concerns about the safety of Bitcoin’s technology.

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NVD Highlights Risks to Network From Ordinals Inscription

The National Vulnerability Database (NVD) has identified a critical loophole in Bitcoin’s system, revealed in a recent document. This vulnerability stems from the ability to circumvent the data carrier limit in certain versions of Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Knots. This flaw was exploited in 2022 and 2023, allowing data to be masked as code, particularly impacting the practice of “inscriptions” in the Ordinals Protocol.

Inscriptions on the Bitcoin blockchain involve embedding extra data, such as digital images, text, or other media, onto a single satoshi, the smallest Bitcoin unit. This practice gained traction in late 2022 with the Ordinals, which brought a new dimension to digital art on the Bitcoin network, akin to Ethereum’s nonfungible tokens (NFTs).

The concern with this vulnerability is its potential to flood the Bitcoin blockchain with non-transactional data. This could increase the blockchain size, potentially slowing down the network and leading to higher transaction fees. This issue is currently under thorough investigation due to its possible significant impact on Bitcoin’s network performance and costs.

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Industry Voices Concerns: Ordinals Strain Bitcoin Network, Says Experts

The NVD has spotlighted a post by Bitcoin Core developer Luke Dashjr as a crucial reference point in understanding the recent vulnerability in Bitcoin’s network. Dashjr argues that the Ordinals’ inscriptions are exploiting a weakness in Bitcoin Core to flood the network with irrelevant data. This is compared to being inundated with junk mail, creating a cumbersome process of sifting through to find important messages, and thereby hindering overall efficiency.

Adding to this discourse, Peter McCormack, a prominent Bitcoin podcaster, has voiced his concerns. McCormack is critical of the Ordinals, suggesting that they do not offer any real benefits to Bitcoin users and actually exacerbate the network’s already high transaction fees. These industry perspectives underline the growing debate around the impact of Ordinals on Bitcoin’s network and its user experience.

Rising Ordinals Transactions Strain Bitcoin Network

Throughout 2023, the rising popularity of Ordinals transactions has led to repeated congestion on the Bitcoin network. This has intensified competition for transaction confirmations, resulting in higher fees and longer processing times.

Dashjr commented on the possible ramifications of resolving this vulnerability. He suggested that fixing this issue might halt Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens, but existing inscriptions would remain due to the immutable nature of the Bitcoin network. This scenario presents a complex challenge balancing network efficiency and the continuity of existing blockchain data.

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Walter Swift

Walter Swift

Walter Swift is an adept crypto writer, known for his deep insights into the decentralized world. His pieces artfully break down complex blockchain topics, making them accessible to a broad audience. With a passion for emerging technologies, Walter's articles are a beacon for crypto enthusiasts and novices alike.

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