The privacy-centric cryptocurrency Monero has had another hard fork, and the new updated version is designed to prevent Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) mining and to increase privacy. Monero regularly hard forks about twice every year, some people have called these regular hard forks network upgrades. The latest upgrade happened on Friday April 6th at block number 154600. However, just before the latest hard fork of Monero, five other new cryptocurrencies hard forked from Monero. Three of the five new forks include Monero Original (XMO), Monero 0 (XMZ), and MoneroC. Two of the five new forks are using the name Monero Classic (XMC). Additionally, another fork of Monero called MoneroV has postponed their hard fork date until the 30th of April. There was also another recent Monero fork, a memecoin called Wownero.
Some of these new Monero forks are maintaining the ability to be mined using ASICs, while Monero itself intends to continue to try to prevent ASIC mining. Monero has changed the CryptoNight proof-of-work hashing algorithm to stop miners from having the ability to mine using ASICs. The new features present in the upgraded version of Monero include multi-signature transactions, support for the Ledger Nano S hardware wallet, as well as an expanded ring size from 5 to 7 to enhance user privacy. ASIC manufacturers, such as Bitmain developed mining hardware that allowed users to mine coins like Monero. These use the CryptoNight hashing algorithm to create hardware for the purpose of mining Monero. That hardware is now useless. This has inspired at least five new projects to continue to develop and the last version of Monero prior to this month’s regular hard fork.
Monero is the leading privacy-centric cryptocurrency, and has a market cap that is four times bigger than ZCash. From its inception people have used CPUs and GPUs to mine new Monero, but in January of this year it appeared that people had found a way to use ASICs to mine Monero. Bitmain and a few other companies announced last month that they had developed ASIC miners specifically for mining coins using the CryptoNight hashing algorithm. Bitmain debuted the Antminer X3, but at least two other companies also released their CryptoNight ASIC miners, including PinIdea’s RR-200, and Halong Mining’s DragonMint X2 miner.
Monero’s new hard fork did not include replay protection. Some users who upgrade and spend Monero may also end up spending coins on the pre-hard fork blockchain. Users who decide to spend airdropped coins on one of the new five forks such as XMO, XMC, and XMZ, may also end up spending coins on Monero’s blockchain. As discussed in an article posted last month about the Monero fork known as MoneroV, these kinds of forks can hurt the privacy of Monero users. Spending airdropped coins will reveal the user in control of the coins on both forks. Some forks may even be deliberate attacks designed to reduce the privacy of the Monero network. Other forks are likely being pushed by people who spent in excess of $10,000 US Dollars on ASIC miners to mine Monero. After Monero’s network upgrade, ASIC manufacturer Baikal had a buy one get five sale on their CryptoNight ASIC miners.
Monero’s increased ring size is expected to offset some of the privacy-degrading problems created by these new Monero forks. After these latest Monero network upgrades, the hashrate and difficulty will significantly decrease. The developers of Monero are fighting to stop the centralization of mining. For people who want to maintain maximum privacy while using Monero, it would be wise to not use any airdropped fork coins, and when making transactions to set a mixing of at least 7. In time, things should settle back to normal, replay attacks should be increasingly less likely, but if you use Monero it is important to take precautions to safeguard your privacy.