Bitcoin Gold a Shitcoin Vulnerable to Attack Despite $200 Million Market Cap

December 11, 2018 / by Zachary Mashiach

The War On Shitcoins Episode 1: Bitcoin Gold (BTG). The war on shitcoins is a Crypto.IQ series that targets and shoots down cryptocurrencies that are not worth investing in either due to their being scams, having serious design flaws, being centralized, or in general just being worthless copies of other cryptocurrencies. There are thousands of shitcoins that are ruining the markets, and Crypto.IQ intends to expose all of them. The crypto space needs an exorcism, and we are happy to provide it.

There are more than 2,000 cryptocurrencies listed on CoinMarketCap, and Bitcoin Gold (BTG) is near the top at number 25 with a market cap of $207 million. This would seem to indicate that Bitcoin Gold is a major cryptocurrency, but it is simply a copycat of Bitcoin with one key and debilitating difference that makes it worse than Bitcoin. Bitcoin Gold is designed to block ASIC miners, leaving only GPU miners.

The idea was that GPU miners would rally around Bitcoin Gold since GPU Bitcoin miners were disenfranchised by ASIC miners years ago. Ultimately, this decision to only allow GPUs resulted in such a low mining hash rate that Bitcoin Gold is vulnerable to 51 percent attacks, and a serious 51 percent attack has already happened once. Further, Bitcoin Gold has had centralization problems from the very beginning.

When Bitcoin Gold launched in November 2017 the developers did a massive premine of 8,000 blocks, which yielded them about 100,000 BTG. At today’s price $12 this is $1.2 million, and when BTG’s price peaked near $500, this was $50 million. This premine is unfair to other BTG miners, traders, and investors. Supposedly, the premined BTG were placed in an “endowment,” which means the developers will receive all of that money eventually, just not all at once. There is no way to verify if this is even true, however, and the excessive 97 percent BTG price crash since January 2018 might be partially due to developers dumping their coins.

A far more serious issue than the premine is BTG’s lack of network security. BTG made mining ASIC resistant by using the Equishash Proof of Work (PoW) algorithm. However, ASICs were eventually developed for Equihash since ASICs can be developed for any PoW algorithm. In May 2018 a 51 percent double spend attack occurred on the Bitcoin Gold network, and a hacker stole $18.6 million from cryptocurrency exchanges that listed BTG. This caused the developers to hard fork in order to implement a newer version of Equihash that is supposedly more ASIC resistant. Clearly, the developers did not learn their lesson that there is no ASIC-resistant PoW algorithm. If Bitcoin Gold became valuable enough, someone would produce an ASIC for it.

It is unclear if Equihash ASICs were the reason for the 51 percent attack, since an attacker could literally just rent some hash rate on a cloud mining site and successfully 51 percent attack Bitcoin Gold. Currently it only takes 1.6 MH/s of rented mining power to successfully perform a double spend attack on the Bitcoin Gold network, and this costs about $1,000 per hour if the hash rate is rented from NiceHash.

Effectively, Bitcoin Gold is not cryptographically secure. The original purpose of banning ASIC miners so that GPU miners could thrive ended up being a fatal flaw for Bitcoin Gold. It is ridiculous that major exchanges like Binance and Bitfinex still offer BTG trading. This is a true disservice to the users of these exchanges and is a risk for the exchanges themselves.

Crypto users need to educate themselves thoroughly before buying any cryptocurrency, or they could end up buying a shitcoin like Bitcoin Gold just because it has a high ranking on CoinMarketCap. BTG has already lost 97 percent of its value since January 2018, and there is strong potential for it to become completely worthless once someone decides to rent some hash power and perform a vicious 51 percent attack.