Since its beginings the bitcoin has met several glitches, one of the most appealing occurred back in 2010. This bug was spotted at first by a core developer called Jeff Garzik, he spotted that the Bitcoin Block 74638 was showing quite unusual transactions outputs. Each transaction of the block culminating at 92233720368.54 BTC per piece.
In the next hour following this discover, the community was quite shocked by the news, one of its member started a thread called “overflow bug serious” which did not remain unnoticed. The integer overflow glitch created around 184 billion worth of bitcoin out of completely nothing. In the Bitcoin wiki logs were recorded around 40 bugs on the network but none if it had the integer overflow one impact.
The interest paid to this bug was related to the fact that Bitcoin was having a maximum of 21 millions tokens and that very bug added to 184 billion of them to the 21 million already existing. This raised questions for the developers. Indeed, the issue was linked to a negative integer outflow had for consequence an excessively high transaction value. One member from the forum explained:
“Normally the inputs are equal to the outputs of a transaction. The exception is when there is a ‘fee’ charged for the transaction. The net allows anyone to voluntarily pay any amount for a fee. So when the sum was negative the difference from the input looked like a fee. It slipped thru all the checks.”
THE STRIKE FOLLOWING THE GLITCH
The bug was find out by an unknow hacker who used this breach to create an incredible amount of Bitcoin. Nonetheless, if the pirate had been more modest in the generated amount the impact would not have only been financially but also psychologically.
At that time the Bitcoin was new, such a breach followed by a hack could have signed the Bitcoin’s premature ending. However, an action plan was set up by developers very quickly leading to a fix installed two hours after the bug was find out.
As a later consequence, the whole transactions from the block 74638 were canceled. Satoshi was online and active on the forum when the bug was find out, he kept track of the series of event following this discovery. He kept other member aware of the evolution on the bug:
“Once more than 50% of the node power is upgraded and the good chain overtakes the bad, the 0.3.10 nodes will make it hard for any bad transactions to get any confirmations,”
The glitch on the Bitcoin block 74638 had for root cause an integer overflow and it was only find outs because of an hacker using it to create incredible amounts of Bitcoin. Nonetheless, as the community around the cryptocurrency is decentralized it allows the bug to fixed in 2 hours.
Satoshi took part in it by letting the community know about the evolution of the bug’s fix. The glitch could have been the source of a total chaos in the Bitcoin community if only it had not been found and solved quickly Bitcoin would not have known the success we know as people would never have trusted it.
Editor of IMD News