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Gitcoin Virtual Hackathon

Chasing the GHOST: Network Security Hackathon

Nov 3, 2020 - Jan 1, 2021

This hackathon event had ended at Jan. 1, 2021, 11:59 p.m., please check the ongoing hackathons.

An Ethereum Classic Labs Hackathon, Powered by Gitcoin

Chasing the GHOST: Network Security Hackathon

Make sure to join the ETC Discord to join the ETC community


Improvements to the GHOST Protocol

We're excited to engage the Gitcoin developer community in our quest to accelerate network security on PoW blockchains. We’d love to hear from developers, researchers, entrepreneurs, and innovators about improvements that could be made to the Ethereum Classic protocol and other mechanisms relevant to the Ethereum Classic blockchain that could improve the consensus and finality technology.

We're curious to hear about what you think is possible when you explore the tradeoffs between:

·    Consistency

·    Finality

·    Availability

·    Partition Tolerance

If you were to make extensions to, assumptions and modifications to the GHOST protocol, a new economic mechanism(s), or create an external system; how would you leverage the changes to make PoW blockchains better?

In particular, we are interested in detection, analytics, and deterrence tools and systems and are looking for a request for proposal (RFP) for a research topic you'd like to explore that would move things forward.


Ethereum Classic and 51% Attacks

Ethereum Classic (ETC) is the continuation of the unaltered history of its sister Ethereum chain. The ETC network preserves the principle philosophy that Code is Law and immutable. It’s a PoW blockchain, ERC20 token and parity with Ethereum since the recent Pheonix Fork which implement ETH's Istanbul network protocol upgrades.

Following the recent 51% attacks, on October 10, 2020, ETC successfully implemented MESS (Modified Exponential Subjective Scoring), an innovative network security solution. It was developed by Isaac A., ETC Core Protocol Lead and Client Developer, the ETC Core Team, with support from Open Relay and ChainSafe Systems. MESS has already seen adoption by miners and exchanges, successfully leading to a reduction in confirmation times and a more secure network.


Phase 1: RFP-athon


·    RFP-athon: Nov 2 – Dec 4 2020

·    Q&A Webinar: TBD

·    Proposals due: Dec 4, 2020


Phase 2: Hackathon

Implement winning RFP’s in the most effective and efficient way.


·    Hackathon: Jan 4, 2021 - Feb 12, 2021

·    Webinar: TBD

·    Hackathon ends: Feb 12, 2021

·    Winners announced: Feb 25, 2021


  • Phase 1: The best proposal ideas will receive ETC, ETH or USD and an invitation to hackathon phase II.
  • Early Warning 51% Detection System - $2,000
  • Create Systems to Deter Adversarial Network Participants- $2,000
  • Open Track Bounty - $2,000
  • Phase 2:
  • 1st Place - up to $50,000
  • 2nd Place – up to $20,000
  • 3rd Place – up to $5,000


Designing systems and tools that will make 51% attacks less harmful and harder to execute. This includes ghostwriting tools to support the detection, provide analytics, and deterrence of adversarial network participants.

1. Early Warning 51% Detection System


51% attacks are difficult to detect in PoW systems let alone forecast. We are looking for tools that can be used to provide a warning about future 51% attacks. Examples might be but not limited to systems that are used to detect offline mining, abnormal mining pool behavior, etc. These tools might be systems or algorithms that can be implemented to warn about potential 51% attacks.

Acceptance Criteria:

A quantifiable metric or set of metrics on which to predict that an attack may happen, visualization of a potential attack scenario and detection scenario, a specification of how the algorithms/systems can be implemented.

2. Create Systems to Deter Adversarial Network Participants


We are looking for systems that help deter adversarial network participants from being potential bad actors on the network. For this proposal, we’d like to see algorithms, and schemes that can help encourage better network participation and discourage network manipulation. One example of an idea would be proposal that have a scope similar to this deterrence of selfish mining paper. http://www.cs.cornell.edu/~ie53/publications/btcProcFC.pdf

Acceptance Criteria:

We’d like to see a brief white paper of a proposal for ETC that demonstrates a quantifiable

improvement in deterring bad network behavior, whether it’s improved block times, reduced chain bloat, reduced spam or any behavioral metric of your choosing. Ideally, we’d like the paper to include the following. Implementable description of the algorithm and system, as well as metrics on how the algorithm deters adversarial behavior

3. Open Track Bounty


We are looking for you to propose a feature for ETC, that would result in an improved network for network participants, particularly on a security front. These can vary wildly and we would like to see what aspects you could improve. For example, network block propagation, Kademlia improvements, state management improvements, block sealing ethash improvement analysis, fundamentally improving network connectivity, are only tangentially related to security, but can result in an improvement.

Acceptance Criteria:

We’d like to see a white paper of a proposal specifically for ETC that states clearly what aspect of ETC you’d like to improve, how it will affect security, and a clear description of how to implement the improvement.


Ethereum Classic Labs is seeking proposals for the following RFPs above. The deadline for proposals is

Dec 4th, 2020 at 23:59 PDT for priority consideration.

Overall theme: Designing systems that will make 51% attacks less harmful and harder to execute by creating early warning tools and systems.

Proposals should include:

1.   Project Description

  • Brief description
  • Value to the Ethereum Classic ecosystem

2.   Deliverables

  • An explanation of your technical solution and architecture
  • Imagine that an experienced software developer will evaluate your proposal

3.   Milestones & Funding requested

  • Most projects have at least 4 milestones
  • Budget and estimated timeframe for each milestone

4.   Team

  • Roles and Experience
  • Teams with a history of high-quality open source code repos and live applications and products are preferred.

Proposal Requirements:

Proposals should include a value proposition about how it will benefit the Ethereum Classic ecosystem, technical detail about what your team intends to build and evidence your team is capable of creating good, re-usable open source code, compelling product demos and great documentation, and a reasonable technical development plan broken down into milestones.

Evaluation of proposals based on:

  • The quality of the proposal and near-term value to the Ethereum Classic ecosystem
  • Your team’s technical experience, open source contributions and interest in diving into security issues on blockchain and specifically ETC.
  • Likelihood that your team will continue to support the Ethereum Classic ecosystem long-term and commitment to maintaining your project for one year









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Start Work via Gitcoin

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Submit Work via Gitcoin

When your project is completed, submit your work by clicking the “Submit Work” button on the prize page/