Eclipse Attack – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Glossary

What is an Eclipse Attack?

An Eclipse Attack is a type of cyber attack that targets a specific node or group of nodes within a blockchain network. The goal of an Eclipse Attack is to isolate the targeted node(s) from the rest of the network, allowing the attacker to manipulate the information being sent to and from the isolated node(s). This manipulation can lead to various malicious activities, such as double spending, denial of service attacks, or even complete control over the targeted node(s).

How does an Eclipse Attack work?

In an Eclipse Attack, the attacker attempts to control the information flow between the targeted node(s) and the rest of the network. This is typically achieved by flooding the targeted node(s) with false information or by manipulating the routing tables of the network to redirect traffic away from the targeted node(s) and towards the attacker’s controlled nodes. By isolating the targeted node(s) in this way, the attacker can effectively control the information being sent to and from the targeted node(s), allowing them to carry out their malicious activities.

What are the consequences of an Eclipse Attack?

The consequences of an Eclipse Attack can be severe for a blockchain network. If successful, an Eclipse Attack can lead to double spending, where the attacker is able to spend the same cryptocurrency multiple times by manipulating the targeted node(s). Additionally, an Eclipse Attack can also result in denial of service attacks, where the targeted node(s) are overwhelmed with false information, causing them to become unresponsive or even crash. In extreme cases, an Eclipse Attack can give the attacker complete control over the targeted node(s), allowing them to make unauthorized changes to the blockchain or steal sensitive information.

How can blockchain networks defend against Eclipse Attacks?

There are several strategies that blockchain networks can use to defend against Eclipse Attacks. One common approach is to implement strict validation rules for incoming connections, which can help to detect and block malicious nodes attempting to manipulate the network. Additionally, blockchain networks can also use encryption and authentication protocols to secure the communication between nodes, making it more difficult for attackers to intercept or manipulate the information being sent between nodes. Finally, blockchain networks can also implement decentralized routing protocols, such as Kademlia, to make it harder for attackers to manipulate the routing tables and isolate specific nodes within the network.

What are some real-world examples of Eclipse Attacks?

One notable example of an Eclipse Attack occurred in 2015 on the Ethereum network. In this attack, a group of malicious nodes were able to isolate a specific mining pool from the rest of the network, allowing them to manipulate the information being sent to and from the mining pool. This manipulation resulted in the mining pool receiving false information about the blockchain, leading to the pool mining on a forked version of the blockchain controlled by the attackers. This ultimately resulted in the mining pool losing a significant amount of cryptocurrency before the attack was detected and mitigated.

How can users protect themselves from Eclipse Attacks?

Users can protect themselves from Eclipse Attacks by following some best practices when interacting with blockchain networks. One important step is to always verify the authenticity of the nodes they are connecting to, as malicious nodes can be used to carry out Eclipse Attacks. Additionally, users should also ensure that they are using secure and up-to-date software when interacting with blockchain networks, as outdated or vulnerable software can make them more susceptible to attacks. Finally, users should also be cautious when sharing sensitive information or making transactions on blockchain networks, as attackers can use Eclipse Attacks to intercept and manipulate this information for their own gain.