Mt. Gox, the worlds largest Bitcoin exchange recently suspended customer withdrawals across all accounts, stating that funds will not be released until Bitcoin fixes a known bug within its protocol. As expected however this has forced a huge backlash from its users and the Bitcoin community at large blaming the exchange for lax security implementations. So who’s to blame, Mt Gox or Bitcoin?
The customer withdrawal suspension was initially due to a problem with the exchange’s own payment processing system, but the most recent statement released by Mt. Gox regarding the freeze puts all the blame on Bitcoin developers without holding itself responsible.
What has come to light very recently however is that Mt. Gox have known about the security flaw and bug within the transaction malleability since 2011(view here), courtesy of core Bitcoin developer Greg Maxwell.
Maxwell alerted the exchange and explicitly warned them of the possible flaw in their platform yet recent events suggest this advice went unheeded.
No doubt the claim made by the company is monumental. Essentially they are saying the bug makes it possible for an attacker to covertly spoof transaction details and make them seem like bitcoins were sent to a wallet when in reality they did not.
If Mt. Gox’s claims hold water and are as infamous as advertised this could be an epic blow to the future of bitcoin. If false however the exchange is likely to die.
Many within the Bitcoin community have stressed their anger at Mt. Gox and questioned why withdrawals have not being actioned for several months with the exchange now conveniently freezing itself whilst other exchanges continue to operate.
One exchange that seems to be pushing on despite this ‘bug’ is Kraken:
Kraken halts nothing! Because planning. Carry on 🙂
— Kraken (@krakenfx) February 11, 2014
Well known security researcher Oleg Andreev has researched Mt. Gox’s claims and has confirmed that there is no bug in Bitcoin Itself.
“If you need a quick answer: there’s no bug in the Bitcoin itself. You may go to Bitstamp/Coinbase/BTC-E/Bitcoin-Central and buy more BTC with a huge discount before it gets back to $800-$900.”
It’s clear that Mt. Gox does not want to hold itself accountable and instead wishes to pin the blame on somebody else, even if that has to be the Bitcoin developers themselves. Due to the Bitcoin community being tech-savvy it seems the news will only weaken the confidence in the company and ultimately strike it from the top spot in the exchange world.