How hard would it be to destroy the Bitcoin ledger?
Very, very hard. Or almost impossible. If it wasn’t some central entity would have probably already done it.
In this blog, we take a look at what it takes to take down the Bitcoin network. If we can destroy Bitcoin and how to do it. Although we use the Bitcoin blockchain as an example in this blog. Many other blockchains could be taken down in a similar way. Because of the nature of a blockchain.
To understand how to destroy the Bitcoin ledger, you need to understand the parts that make up the network. For Bitcoin, the network has 3 parts. The miners, nodes, and holders. Miners are the part of the machine that computes a lot of difficult math answers by guessing. The miner to gues first can validate the transactions for the next block and earns a reward for doing so. Second, we have the nodes. These are computers run by thousands of people that all store a copy of the Bitcoin ledger. And last but not least. The holders of Bitcoin. These people hold just BTC, but when they hold it on their own wallet only they have access to those funds. Not even the miners or nodes can access their funds.
To take down any crypto network you will have to find a way to destroy/hack any of these 3 parts. But how do we do that?
Can the Bitcoin network be destroyed?
Yes, it could be destroyed. But it ain’t as simple as you think. Taking down the network would cost a lot of money, electricity, and time.
Destroying the network could be done in 2 ways. One by taking down the hardware or software, or 2 by making it unusable. In the next part, we will take a look at how we can do so with hardware or software. And here we take a look at how we can make it unusable.
The simplest method to do so is just by banning (a part of it). We have seen this happen in China with many attempts to ban Bitcoin mining, trading, transacting, etc. But sadly for their government, they can not really do so. Simply because no government has control over the network. Meaning that they can not stop a transaction or take the network down if they do not like it. Because of this people in countries like China can still access Bitcoin but might have to jump through some looks to get it. And then make sure that they keep that private. To avoid a penalty from their government.
Luckily Bitcoin’s layer 2’s make more things possible and with the most popular BTC scaling solution the lightning network comes much more privacy for those people that need it.
How to destroy Bitcoin
You could destroy Bitcoin on a hardware level by taking out either the nodes, miners or by breaking the encryption on a private key.
Doing so is just not that easy. To take control of the upcoming transactions on the chain you would need to control at least 51% of the mining power. This so you would have a bigger share of the network. But mining Bitcoin comes with its own cost. Because miners need to buy a lot of computers to do so and pay for the electricity that powers them. Considering how much money goes into mining by many different parties, it would cost 1 party many billions to take even a few percentages of control.
Second, we could destroy all nodes, as they store the record of all transactions ever made, AKA the blockchain. To do so you would have to destroy them ALL! If one node survives so does the network. Currently, pleps and experts host thousands of nodes around the globe and even one in space. Tracking down all of them and taking them offline thus seems like an impossible task to do.
Last but not least. You could try to crack the SHA-256 encryption that protects the bond between a private and public key. Doing so would let you use someone’s public Bitcoin address to figure out their private key and thus take control of all their funds. Till now no one has ever cracked this algorithm. And it is very unlikely anyone ever will as the possible options far exceed the grains of sand on our planet.
Check out more about individual blockchain ownership here!
Can Bitcoin ever be deleted?
It could be deleted if all nodes would be destroyed. Or if you would lose your funds to a non-active address.
When we say non-active address we take about a Bitcoin address that has never transacted. Thus probably does not have an owner. Sending your BTC to an address like this would make them basically stuck forever. As an enormous number of BTC addresses exist. The chance of anyone ever using that non-active address is very small. So if you would send your coins to an address like this, you could consider the coins lost or deleted.
The same would go for if you have some crypto in an account but lose access to it. Many because you did not make a backup. ALWAYS MAKE A BACKUP!!!! Coins on a device that broke down or fell in the water etc. And do not have a backup will probably never see the light of day. As from then on no one has access to them. Although they would not really be destroyed. No one could ever touch them again. Making them more or less destroyed BTC.
Can Bitcoin be shut down by governments?
Nope, no government can shut down the Bitcoin network. But they could ban the currency or the mining or it.
As we mentioned before some countries like China do try to remove Bitcoin from their country. Sadly for them, they can not really do that. Really shutting down the network would acquire the collaboration of everyone in the network. And so far no government has really involved itself with it, except for El Salvador. Because El Salvador holds and mines BTC they do form a part of the network. But do not really control any significant amount of it. And even if more governments join the BTC wave. Neither of them will hold much of a majority stake of the network either. As the more countries opt in the more people will do so as well. Making the network only more decentralized. Thus giving the full control of money back to the people.