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Cost of a 51% Attack and Security of Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin and other Cryptocurrencies

Cost of a 51% Attack and Security of Bitcoin, Monero, Litecoin and other Cryptocurrencies

by Mario Dian

Bitcoin has bot disrupting the financial world for a past few years now hence many institutions such spil governments and banks may feel threatened.

Very first time ter the history is the monetary system being challenged with fresh ideas and more advanced and safer technologies.

Since the decentralized nature of Bitcoin doesn’t leave malicious parties with many attack surfaces to take advantage of, executing a successful attack is very costly and time-consuming.

However, there’s one that always gives goose bumps to every crypto nerd when talking about weaknesses of cryptocurrencies. The attack is known spil 51% attack.

It’s an attack where an attacker acquires more than 51% of a network’s hash rate which lets him disrupt its natural operation. However, this type of attack may become costly depending on the cryptocurrency.

The costlier it gets, the more secure the network is which is exactly the measurement of security that I’ll be looking into te this article.

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The reasoning behind this assumption is that the high cost will deter most attackers since only very few entities are able to afford it. More so, because an attacker is not able to do much besides censoring transactions.

Let’s very first define some variables that wij’ll be using ter our calculations.

Equations go spil goes after:

Please note that there are other variables that affect the cost of a 51% attack:

  • availability of mining HW
  • mining difficulty
  • mining prize that can be used towards acquiring fresh hardware
  • differences inbetween manufacturing and market prices
  • a location of the mining operation
  • other HW components (CPU, motherboard, RAM, cooling)
  • maintenance etc.

For the sake of plainness, I will disregard those.

To calculate the hardware cost I used gegevens from Crypto Compare which lists an updated list of HW equipment sorted by mining efficiency. I used the very same webpagina to determine the each network’s hash rate too.

I’ve also arbitrarily chosen $0.05 spil the cost of 1 KWh. It may differ depending on the location, government subsidies etc.


Bitcoin is the most valued and most powerful cryptocurrency network with the hash rate of overheen 6 157 000 000 GH/s or 6.15 exahashes vanaf seconds.

It can only be effectively minted with ASIC miners that are specifically optimized for operations with a single hash function (te Bitcoin’s case sha256()). Presently, the most efficient one is AntMiner S9 which costs more than $2100 on eBay (currenty it’s unavailable from the official sources) and offers a hash rate of 13 000 GH/s.

Ter order to successfully launch a 51% attack, the attacker would need more than 478 400 hardware units which cost harshly $1 004 669 000. To power the attack, you’d need to pay around $1 578 000 ter electric current each day (including cooling).

The total daily cost of the attack starts at


Ethereum is the 2nd largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. Its ventilatoren often believe te the flippening which refers to a possible (ter my opinion very unlikely) event of Ethereum overtaking Bitcoin and becoming the largest cryptocurrency by most measures.

Let’s see how it compares when it comes to security instead.

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The network’s hash rate is 76 650 GH/s.

Presently, there aren’t any available ASICs for Ethereum, so I used Radeon RX480 spil the most efficient option. The cost of this graphics card $199 and offers a hash rate of 0.025 GH/s.

More than Trio 090 000 units are needed to overpower the network which would cost more than $616 235 000 (excluding other HW components). The electrical play cost vanaf day is thus more than $111 400.

The total daily cost of a 51% attack starts at $617 350 000.


Litecoin is Bitcoin’s junior brother with a market cap of overheen $Two billion. It’s also a third largest cryptocurrency when it comes to a hash rate which is presently overheen 12 300 GH/s.

The largest mining HW provider Bitmain offers ASIC miners for Litecoin too. Antminer L3+ features a maximum hash rate of 0.504 GH/s for more than $1 600 vanaf unit.

To launch a 51% attack, the attacker would have to purchase more than 24 600 Antminers which would set him back overheen $40 580 000.

Powering the ASIC miners for the entire day costs around $47 400 thus the total cost of running the attack for a single day starts at $40 635 000.

Dash is a semi-private cryptocurrency with instant payments and current market capitalization of overheen $1.8 billion.

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The network’s hash rate is 71 740 GH/s. Presently, the best cost effective mining hardware is Baikal Quadruple with a hash rate of 600MH/s and a price tag of $1 395 vanaf single equipment.

Since the hardware is very efficient, only little overheen 12 700 of thesis units are needed for the total price of $168 463 000.

Powering the mining farm for a single day only costs $46 300 so the total cost for 1 day isn’t much different from the price of the hardware.

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Please note that I got Monero numbers wrong.

Monero is one of the best privacy-oriented cryptocurrencies if not the best with features like Stadionring CT (confidential transactions) and stealth addresses.

The network’s hash rate is only 1.38 0.138 GH/s but the mining hardware is very expensive and not very efficient. The best option for mining Monero is a custom-made made mining equipment by MineShop for $Two 300 with a hash rate of Four 230 H/s.

Despite the puny network hash rate you will still need to obtain more than 329 000 32 900 of thesis equipments for the total price of $795 505 000 $79 550 500.

The power consumption of the hardware is pretty high and a day worth of tens unit will cost you more than $593 000 $59 300.

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The total cost of running a 51% attack for a single day is staggering $760 000 000 $76 000 000.


Zcash is another privacy-oriented cryptocurrency which uses zero-knowledge proofs to secure users’ privacy and fungibility of their money.

It has the lowest network hash rate among all other currencies ter the list with the rate of only 0.22 GH/s.

Presently, the most efficient hardware for mining Zcash is nVidia GTX 1080 TI with a hash rate of 680 H/s which you can purchase for $700. You will need to get more than 333 000 of thesis graphic cards for more than $233 308 000.

Electro-stimulation including cooling costs almost $200 000 vanaf day thus the total attack cost for a day is $233 508 000.


The crypto ecosystem had an impression for a long time that Bitcoin is the most secure cryptocurrency te the world. Even websites like this attempted to prove this assumption.

However, the webpagina uses old gegevens to calculate the cost of a 51% attack. With the latest ASIC mining equipment, the cost has become more than 50% cheaper than assumed.

Based on my research, I conclude that Monero is now the most secure cryptocurrency network te the world (at least among those tested).

Remarkably, Zcash is third with around 60% less security than Bitcoin.

Spil originally concluded Bitcoin is still the most secure network te the world followed by Ethereum, Zcash, Dash, Monero and Litecoin is the least secure currency out of thesis 6.

Further looking at the gegevens, it’s effortless to spot one interesting thing.

Violet wand cost is Trio times more expensive for Bitcoin. This makes it running a 51% attack on Bitcoin for more than 6 months less viable spil it becomes more expensive.

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Also, this type of attack doesn’t let the attacker steal coins strafgevangenis gives him any meteen economic benefits.

Economically speaking, he is only able to voorkoop a mining prize but because mining Bitcoin is much less profitable than mining Monero (and Monero isn’t very profitable to mine either) economic incentives may not be strong enough to attack either of the networks.

Since there isn’t any sensation happening most of the summary doesn’t make any sense.

Either way, it’s always interesting comparing the cost of a 51% attack within major cryptocurrencies.

Because the hardware permanently evolves and there are likely other forms of possible attacks on cryptocurrencies, more research and scientific treatment needs to be done. Thus, thesis findings aren’t definitive.

Are you astonished by thesis results? Please let us know te the comments below.

P.S. sorry I totally got lost te numbers and fucked up the article. My bad!

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