Before we get into the figures and amounts of hacking into the leading cryptocurrencies, we need to define what the “attack” means.
In a 51% attack, malicious miners manage to gain control of a cryptocurrency’s blockchain in a very particular manner of hacking. By gaining more than half the hashing power on a cryptocurrency’s blockchain, it means that one can gain tentative authority over the network and can authorize or censor any transaction for as long as they are in control.
This often leads to “double-spend” attacks, whereby the hacker will first suspend transactions and then if any transactions were attempted while they had control of the network, they would reverse them and move the funds from the transactions straight into their pocket, meaning that the coins would be double-spent – from the originally intended account to the hacker’s wallet.
That cost and that time are exactly what we are going to be exploring – how much you would be spending to execute a 51% hack on a major blockchain. Taking values and data from Crypto51, we can find out a hack costs for the networks of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
The original and most valuable cryptocurrency has a current market cap of $110,56 billion USD and a blockchain length which sees 17,373,687 BTC in circulation at present.
To execute a 51% attack on Bitcoin‘s blockchain, you would need to squeeze $535,835 USD out of your pockets for some sixty-minutes of hacking fun.
If a hacker is looking to control the Ethereum blockchain, they are looking to attack into a network with a market cap of $21,51 billion USD and a blockchain length which has 103,170,885 ETH in circulation at present. Currently, Ethereum is trading for $208.29 USD per token.
In order to attack a 51% hack on Ethereum’s blockchain, you would need to spend $154,407 USD for an hour of authority.
Litecoin‘s current market cap is sitting at $2.99 billion USD and there are 59,136,538 LTC in circulation and the token currently has a trading value of $50.54 USD.
In order to successfully conduct a 51% attack on Litecoin’s blockchain, you would need to fork out $30,696 USD for an hour in the control seat.