What is an Eclipse Attack and How to Avoid It?

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What is an Eclipse Attack?

An eclipse attack initiates a series of complex computerized operations to destabilize a blockchain network. Hackers focus their attention on an isolated portion of a blockchain network to concentrate the power of the attack.

Therefore, a node operator may be a potential target for an eclipse attack. Hackers usually go after peer-to-peer nodes. It is so because the computation capacity of a blockchain is divided in various components that are called nodes.

Nodes increase the data processing capability of a blockchain and prevent congestion. Hackers examine the code of a blockchain to find technical vulnerabilities. To make the attack effective, hackers can also create a series of fake peers to entrap the targeted node.

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In this manner, when hackers endorsed a particular node using fake connections, they are able to gain considerable power. However, once the node is entangled in the system, all transactions processed through it are redirected to attackers. In this manner, the attackers are able to obstruct the mining process and bypass illegal transactions.

How does Eclipse Attack Work?

The attackers in this type of exploit depend on high technical skills and complex protocols. Attackers use various IP addresses and behave like fake peers or nodes. They employ botnets to isolate the targeted node.

Once they are able to surround the targeted node, they have the ability to decide their next course of action. In most cases, there are two probable outcomes mentioned as under:

Hit Mining Operators

Hackers can conceal blocks on the chain network. In this way, miners assume that they are partnering with a new node. But, in reality the node is under-attack.

Double-Spend Trigger

Double-spend malfunction is an event where hackers can duplicate the transaction records on a blockchain that allows them to use the same digital currency twice.

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The Purpose of Eclipse Attack

As mentioned above, the two possible outcomes of an Eclipse Attack namely destabilizing a blockchain network and creating transaction duplicates does not benefit the hackers directly. Therefore, it is right to inquire about the real motives of the hackers.

The main reason for this type of attack is not to bag financial gains but rather damage the reputation of a given blockchain network among the industry participants.

Another probable cause of an Eclipse Attack is to block a decentralized application that is based on or associated with the targeted blockchain network. Blockchain sector is rapidly expanding that has increased competition between various blockchain networks and serves as another motivation for hackers to take out the competition.

Prevention and Protection Against Eclipse Attacks

The most important factor that enables eclipse attack is the underlying infrastructure of a blockchain network. Therefore, a blockchain network that has a strong programming base and regular technical audit has greater protection against Eclipse Attacks.

However, the users or nodes associated with a blockchain network often have limited power or influence with regards to its technical resilience and stability.

Another useful defense mechanism is the democratic voting system on a blockchain network. Some blockchain systems such as Ethereum use Ethereum Improvement Proposals or EIP program.

A technical vulnerability that can increase the threat of eclipse attacks is no-confirmation transactions. These types of transactions do not require authentication from the initiators and are processed without acquiring a confirmation.

Investors can use no-confirmation transactions to capitalize on time but it can expose them to issues such as eclipse attacks. It is because, no-confirmation transactions are easier to duplicate in comparison to confirmation transactions.

The lack of approval removes an additional layer of security from the blockchain that speeds up the transaction processing speed but it can end up costing the investors a lot of money and expose them to technical exploits.


Hackers are coming up with innovative and more imaginative ways to hinder the operations of a blockchain network. Nevertheless, the emergence of these new technical blind spots encourages blockchain developers to create and implement new security updates.

Author: Isacco Genovesi

Isacco writes news articles, reviews and guides about cryptocurrencies including technical analysis, blockchain events, coin prices marketcap and detailed reviews on crypto exchanges and trading platforms.

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