The Ethereum Foundation has confirmed the merger for mid-2022.
The abandonment of mining, once the merger is completed, is expected by December of this year.
Ethereum is almost ready for the arrival of the merger (“The Merges”), according to official information. This stage will begin the migration to Proof of Stake (PoS) and the process of leaving Proof of Work (PoW) mining behind. However, there are certain things that can go wrong and make the network vulnerable.
In a report made for Bloomberg, the technology specialist, Olga Kharif, summarizes how a network vulnerable to 51% attacks and voluntary and involuntary forks could be the biggest evils affecting Ethereum when the merger execution date approaches.
To better understand this situation, it is necessary to know that, during the the merger (which could last for several months) will coexist in Ethereum PoW mining and staking. That is, miners will be able to continue running their equipment and will receive rewards for this work.
According to Kharif, the lack of knowledge about this situation could lead many to turn off their mining equipment or migrate to other networks. They could also sell them, in order to make a higher profit than they would be mining those last few Ethereum rewards.
The developers expect that PoW mining will be phased out once the final date of the merger approaches. A massive reduction could lead to the network being vulnerable to some kind of 51% attack, where a malicious entity takes over most of the mining power.
According to Kharif in his report, to avoid a general flight of hashrate, mining groups or pools, they would be avoiding sharing the information about the arrival of the mergerto prevent some kind of panic within the miners.
Tim Beiko, one of the leaders in the development of Ethereum 2.0, and whose statements are collected by Kharif in his report, points out that there is a emergency plan to carry out the merger in a forced way, in case of an extreme drop in hashrate. This is an implementation that would bring forward the launch date so that the current Ethereum 2.0 staking —which is already running— starts to validate transactions instead of the hashrate that is being reduced.
High probability of hard forks in Ethereum
Kharif also refers to the high probability of bifurcations (forks) in Ethereum before or during the merger.
If those who have a node do not update the software, they will continue to validate an “unofficial” chain unintentionally. The probability of this happening is quite high, however, the fixes would only require the node to update its software.
There is also the possibility of a voluntary fork. This would happen, for example, if some group did not want to abandon Ethereum mining and wanted to continue with the network as it is until before the merger. Then, a new “Ethereum” would be formed, possibly ending up being considered a new cryptocurrency. In the past, a fork of these characteristics was the one that gave rise to the Ethereum Classic network.
If the latter were to happen, for network users and those who have ethers (ETH) in a self-custody wallet, it should not be a problem. They would simply have, in addition to the ETH of the original network, the same amount of coins (with the name that is decided) in the new network.
What users can expect to happen during the merge
Although it is an important update at the software level, users would hardly notice the changes. Even, as CriptoNoticias already anticipated, the commissions would not be reduced with the arrival of Ethereum 2.0, despite the fact that many have that hope.
However, just as the merger occurs, some centralized or decentralized platforms prevent any type of deposit or withdrawal of ETH or tokens, To avoid inconveniences. To prevent any unforeseen event, it will be advisable to avoid operating on the Ethereum network at that time.