Towards the end of September, a major bug in the Bitcoin code was discovered. It would let anyone print as many coins as they wanted to, even surpassing the maximum supply. Thankfully, the bug was found in time and the Bitcoin Core developers released a patch to fix it. However, the bug was in the code for over a year undetected, so any cryptocurrency that was created using a Bitcoin fork during this period also has the same bug – unless it was subsequently patched, but this is unlikely.
Unfortunately for Pigeoncoin, one hacker thought it would be fun to show the world the potential damage the bug could have caused to the crypto community. He printed himself 235 million Pigeoncoins – roughly one-fourth of all Pigeoncoins in existence – which is equal to around $15,000.
A Dangerous Display
While Pigeoncoin quickly borrowed a patch from the Bitcoin Core team, the hacker’s display highlighted a frightening danger for cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are at the end of the day purely code, there is no failsafe if things go wrong. When a bug in the system appears, it allows hackers to take control of a growing monetary system, as such it can cause chaos. If Bitcoin were to be taken offline for a few hours to patch a bug and repair damage, thousands of transactions wouldn’t be confirmed, meaning people could be left stranded without money for quite some time. This is the sole advantage of a fiat world, cash acts as a failsafe.
Heading into the Unknown
The Pigeoncoin community is now heading into the unknown. This is the first time this attack has been carried out and people are simply waiting to see what will happen next. There is a chance these new coins can’t simply be deleted, meaning that the price of Pigeoncoin will fall drastically due to the new hard cap. It is still unclear whether the hacker will trade his new Pigeoncoins into another crypto and cash out, or will leave the Pigeoncoins there as a stark reminder of the dangers of poor coding. The network is due to go live in the next few days, so we will have to wait and see.
Other Coins Are Upgrading
Following this hack, a raft of other Bitcoin forked cryptos are hastily updating their codebase to prevent this attack from affecting them. Litecoin and Bitcoin Gold have already implemented the new update, but there could still be a number of other alts out there that have yet to update. This is slightly worrying, as we could see an altcoin price meltdown that might impact the wider crypto markets.
Pigeoncoin isn’t the first cryptocurrency to be hacked and it won’t be the last. Hackers are constantly looking for flaws in codebases to make themselves a quick buck. However, most of these hackers are doing it for the bug bounties, not to destroy the cryptocurrencies reputation. Fingers crossed that the crypto world has learned its lesson, and as such more cryptos will commit to updating their original codebases routinely.