Beam, the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency kept users to the edge of their seats by posting a tweet that stated Beam’s blockchain had stopped. They re-tweeted about the executed fix, all these happened within a couple of hours starting early morning 21 January 2019.
Beam officially reported on its Twitter account that its network “stopped at block 25709” and that it was looking into the matter. Beam cornered the bug in its GitHub page as “improper block generation upon cut-through of old-new UTXOs.”
Beam was launched this year and was highly publicized as being one of the two coins that had implemented the ‘mimblewimble’ protocol. This protocol was highly praised for adhering to strict secrecy standards and keeping transactions virtually untraceable.
Mimblewimble transactions are a different flavor of another type of transactions known as confidential transactions. Confidential transactions allow the user to encrypt the number of digital coins they want to send by using blinding factors.
The issue faced by Beam which led to blockchain shutdown can be explained at an overview level by defining UTXO. UTXO stands for ‘Unspent Transaction Output’ is the unspent denomination that can be used as the input in a new transaction. Although Beam did not elaborate on the problem, it can be traced to these lines.
Beam has faced teething issues since its launch. On January 9, the team reported a “critical vulnerability” in its wallet software and recommended users to immediately uninstall the wallet app and re-install a patched version from their website.
Beam’s developers backed their initiative stating that the wallet issue was indeed very critical. They cited that if the bug had not been so promptly discovered and addressed, it would have put the funds of many users at risk. Hackers could have easily overpowered the transactions to their gain and funnel funds to their own wallets.
There was also another cryptocurrency called Grin theorized to leverage mimblewimble protocol that was conceived in the same timelines as Beam. While Beam was launched ahead of Grin, Grin also joined the bandwagon by going live last week.
Beam was able to quickly come to terms with its serious issue and reassured customers that a fix was in place adding that the funds were safe. Beam also highlighted that a detailed investigation of the incident would be underway soon.
Such incidents are no doubt shocking to the masses of crypto community and even more touching to large volume traders. Incidents like these spark mass hysteria where people would rush to free their funds to safer wallets. As we witness cryptocurrencies mature, such instances must be fully phased out through a robust infrastructure.