- Ethereum infrastructure provider Infura went offline for several hours yesterday, causing a chain split on the Ethereum network
- Exchanges halted withdrawals as the company investigated and patched the issue
- The Infura outage is a reminder of the reliance Ethereum puts on third parties
Infura, the infrastructure on which much of the Ethereum network is built, suffered an outage yesterday which wreaked havoc among node operators, causing a chain split and leading to exchanges halting withdrawals. While the network was back online within a few hours, this is an issue that Ethereum could well have done without in the lead up to the release of Ethereum 2.0.
Exchange Withdrawals Halted
The issue was first noticed by late last night when the community began noticing that exchanges were halting Ethereum withdrawals without giving a reason. Ethereum supporters quickly tried to figure out what was going on, soon discovering that the Infura status page was reporting a “service outage for our Ethereum Mainnet API”.
Recriminations soon spread around crypto Twitter, not helped by the fact that it took seven hours to resolve the issue, with Infura releasing a post-mortem after the issue had been resolved. Blockchair lead developer Nikia Zhavoronkov summarized the issue, stating that an unannounced Ethereum code change essentially caused chain split, with the likes of Infura and some miners “stuck on a minority chain”.
Zhavoronkov summed up the seriousness of the issue by claiming that this chain split was “technically…an unannounced hard fork” and adding that it warranted further discussion:
(1/2) Ok, so what happened today on #Ethereum🦄:
1. At some point Ethereum developers introduced a change in the code that led today to a chain split starting from block 11234873 (07:08 UTC)
— Nikita Zhavoronkov (@nikzh) November 11, 2020
Infura Outage Couldn’t Have Come at a Worse Time
The outage and the concurrent impact on the network couldn’t have come at a worse time for Ethereum, with the Ethereum 2.0 rollout at a critical point. Launch of the upgrade is said to be a little over two weeks away, and any reminders of the fragility of the ecosystem are unwelcome to say the least.
Many Ethereum supporters and holders may have been unaware of the existence of Infura and its ilk until now, but its temporary outage is a reminder that the success of the platform is reliant on third parties as well as Ethereum’s own developers.