Ethereum DAO : A spoonful of medicine to help the sugar go down
The Ethereum Dao hard fork was completed 30 minutes ago in response to the Dao hack that was discovered on June 17th.
The action needed to be taken before late July (the specific date moved due to counter white-hat hacks, and differing block mining rates in the intervening period). If nothing was done, the $60m of Ether in the hackers’ account could be withdrawn by the attacker. The hard fork in the Blockchain has funnelled the funds in the hackers’ Dao into a refund Dao, allowing other transactions already confirmed to stay confirmed.
Many people and miner organisations have had to collaborate to propose viable solutions. So in many senses it reinforces the idea of Ethereum being impervious to attack. That said, how likely is it that an application running on Ethereum written by anyone else will get the same special treatment? The Dao is having to wake up to the reputational risk and compliance overhead that any financial institution (centralized or not), has to conform to.
Instead of being damaging for the Ethereum foundation I think it’s actually a healthy situation for it to be in (however stressful it may be for the parties involved). There’s no denying it’s a serious breach. I believe it will force the Ethereum ecosystem to grow up a little. Bold quotes proclaiming Ethereum as “the world’s computer” and “the new internet” do little for the foundation’s credibility, and (ironically) hinder its adoption as any “world computer” or “new internet”.
Ethereum is undeniably an excellent Blockchain platform. This is borne out by its popularity. Nonetheless, anyone who has used it in anger will tell you that it is a little buggy in places. In development, bugs are a fact of life. We can generally forgive a few bugs here and there. The Dao aside, the problem is that we've seen bugs in Ethereum that make our life much harder than we'd like. For instance, we have (intermittently) seen contract events fire multiple times, or problems with case sensitivity in contract addresses being silently ignored. This could all be problems related to specific versions of course, but it doesn't inspire confidence in the platform, or reassure me that I can recommend Ethereum as a platform for taking to production (yet).
Having so much real world money at stake in the Dao certainly focusses the mind (ask any of our consultants in the front office), so maybe a little medicine now will assure Ethereum's future success and the safety of other Dapps released to the platform.
A financial services software engineer specialist who always strives to incorporate the industry’s best practices and tools. With over a decade and a half of development experience using Java in an enterprise environment, he is now a principal consultant at Excelian Luxoft within the Technical Consulting practice. He is passionate about the wider software development community often attending community events and conferences (such as JAX London and QCon) and he is an Associate at the Graduate Developer Community helping to prepare undergraduates and graduates for their role in the IT industry.