How Hard Is It Really To Hack The Bitcoin Network?
Considering the fact that over 95% of all cyber attacks are financially motivated, one cannot help but wonder: can the bitcoin network be hacked too? With a market cap of just over $780 billion, it is after all, a tempting target. Throughout its decade-plus history, Bitcoin has proven to be strikingly resilient to literally any type of shock or attack. So what is it that makes the Bitcoin blockchain so secure? Let’s find out!
Bitcoin is run on a blockchain, and blockchains are write-only ledgers, which is why Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with adding information to a block, but once it is written, under no circumstances will you be able to modify it.
Public Key Cryptography
Bitcoin uses public key cryptography (also known as asymmetric cryptography). In symmetric key algorithms, one key is used to both encrypt and decrypt content. However, with Bitcoin, it is different. The public key (which can be freely shared) is used to encrypt, and the private key (which must be known only to the owner) is used to decrypt, ensuring that the encrypted content can only be decrypted with the owner’s private key. This is one reason hacking the Bitcoin network is practically impossible. In fact, if an attacker wants to track down a private key, they would have to brute-force search every possible combination, and since a private key is a number between 1 and 2^256, the odds of actually finding one is 1 in 115 quattuorvigintillion, which is roughly around the number of atoms in the universe.
The traditional financial system uses a centralized ledger and is reliant on centralized parties such as banks to prevent fraudulent transactions by keeping a record of transactions. Blockchains on the other hand, use distributed ledger technology. Unlike centralized ledgers, distributed ledgers have no central data store. In a distributed ledger, as the name implies, the record of transactions is distributed among a number of separate parties to avoid potential vulnerabilities.
Last but not least, Bitcoin uses a public blockchain, meaning the transactions are visible to everyone, and although everyone can see other user’s belongings, there is no way to track them down to them since addresses are pseudonymous. The Bitcoin blockchain builds trust by leaving transactions visible and verifiable to all users.
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