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Ethereum’s Security in Question: Vitalik Buterin Proposes Radical Reduction in PoS Validators

Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-founder, has unveiled a controversial proposition aimed at streamlining Ethereum’s proof-of-stake (PoS) system. The proposal, released on December 27, advocates a drastic reduction in the number of validators from nearly 1 million to just 8,192 to simplify the network’s structure.

The current PoS framework boasts almost 900,000 validators, aiming for decentralization. Buterin argues that this approach introduces excessive complexity and constraints, particularly with the 32 ETH minimum stake requirement, limiting accessibility for smaller stakeholders.

Buterin’s proposal suggests a significant downsizing, reducing signatures per slot to 8,192 from the current plan of over 1.7 million. He contends that this move would facilitate substantial simplifications across Ethereum, ease the transition to quantum resistance, and maintain a substantial cost for potential attacks, estimated between 1-2 million ETH.

However, developer Micah Zoltu expressed concerns about the adequacy of this attack cost. Zoltu highlighted that numerous entities possess resources exceeding this range, potentially posing a threat to the protocol’s security against formidable adversaries like state actors.

Zoltu’s apprehension revolved around the idea that relying on a smaller security budget might not suffice against well-resourced attackers who aim to undermine crypto networks. He cautioned against assuming Ethereum’s current security sufficiency would persist indefinitely, citing the Lindy Effect’s inapplicability to these scenarios.

Buterin proposed three potential strategies to adapt to this reduced signature system, including reliance on decentralized staking pools, a two-tiered system with varying staking requirements, or rotating participation across slots to maintain accountability.

Acknowledging Zoltu’s concerns, Buterin admitted the ambiguity around the optimal security cost. He recognized the impending debate within the Ethereum community as they grapple with these proposed changes in the PoS system.

The community’s forthcoming discussions about this proposal and others concerning PoS are expected to spark robust debates, reflecting Ethereum’s commitment to ensuring network security while navigating significant structural adjustments.

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