On July 7, Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin (LTC), wrote a post on Reddit to offer a fix for the current spam attack to the Bitcoin network. He had suggested the idea three years ago in a pull request to codebase on GitHub, but developers rejected his idea at the time. A similar attack on the LTC network would not be not “economically feasible.” He explained:
“The reason why it is immune to this attack is because it was attacked in a similar fashion (though to a much smaller degree) years ago. I noticed this flaw in Bitcoin and patched it in Litecoin.”
Lee said that one of the reasons he created Litecoin was because it was hard at the time to make changes to the Bitcoin network. Having different developers with distinctive ideas, however, “can only be good for the resiliency of the whole cryptocurrency movement.”
In his recent keynote address at MIT15 Bitcoin conference in Boston, Lee explained that he created Litecoin to be “the silver of Bitcoin.” Litecoin’s limited supply of 84 million is four times larger than Bitcoin’s, creating a different size “castle” of security for its network. The currency is doing well this month, following suit with its predecessor’s upswing.
“When [Bitcoin is] going up, Litecoin does extremely well. In the past month, Bitcoin has gone up about 20%, whereas Litecoin has gone up about 400%!”
Lee, who also helps Coinbase as the engineering manager for their Bitcoin services, spoke with Cointelegraph about his Reddit post, why he thinks altcoins are valuable, and why he felt it was necessary to speak out.
- Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin (LTC)
Cointelegraph: What prompted you to post this issue to r/bitcoin?
Charlie Lee: When I heard about the network spamming attack on Bitcoin, it reminded me of the time when someone attacked Litecoin in a similar fashion three years ago.
I went and looked at the transactions and noticed the similar pattern: sending transactions with a lot of tiny outputs. I've fixed Litecoin to prevent this exact attack scenario three years ago, but at that time the Bitcoin devs did not agree with my fix and did not incorporate the fix into Bitcoin. I made the post to highlight the fact that: 1) there is a relatively simple fix, if Bitcoin wants to use it, and 2) there is value in having altcoins do stuff a bit differently than Bitcoin to show a different and possibly better way of doing things.
“It's hard to convince these people with words. In time, I believe they will come to the realization that there is value in altcoins.”
CT: Can you explain why Litecoin is ‘immune’ to the spam attack?
CL: The fix implemented in Litecoin is just to charge the sender a fee for each tiny output he creates. For example, in this specific attack, the sender is charged one fee for sending to 34 tiny outputs of 0.00001 BTC. With the fix, that fee would be 34 times as much. So it would cost the attacker a lot more to perform the spam attack. The concept is fairly simple: the sender should pay for each tiny output he/she creates.
CT: What do you say to people who are die-hard, Bitcoin-only idealists?
CL: It's hard to convince these people with words. In time, I believe they will come to the realization that there is value in altcoins.
“I think Litecoin is still very complimentary to Bitcoin — silver to Bitcoin's gold, if you will.”
CT: Can Bitcoin, with its sizable network, overcome problems like this, as well as consensus issues like block size?
CL: I think Bitcoin is very resilient. It might be painful, but it will find its way. And in the unlikely scenario that it cannot overcome the dev infighting, people should feel safe to know that there is an alternative cryptocurrency that's also highly secure and decentralized as Bitcoin.
CT: How do you feel about Litecoin’s current price upswing, in comparison to Bitcoin’s?
CL: Because Litecoin is an altcoin and a much smaller market cap, the Litecoin price is extremely volatile. So when the crypto currency market is crashing, it gets hit a lot harder than Bitcoin. And when it's going up, Litecoin does extremely well. In the past month, Bitcoin has gone up about 20%, whereas Litecoin has gone up about 400%!