Bitmain, the world’s largest producer of ASICs, claimed 42% of the total blocks found on the Bitcoin network from the past week. BTC.com and AntPool, which are both owned by Bitmain, currently comprise 26,6% and 15,3% of the network hash rate, respectively. The company is not far from achieving 51% control of the entire network.
Currently Bitmain remains 9% short of this target, but there are concerns that Bitmain could tap into its Bitcoin Cash hashing power that operates on the same PoW consensus algorithm, to bridge this gap if it wanted to.
The concern here is that if any single company controls a 51% majority of the overall mining pool, it leaves the whole blockchain network open to a number of manipulative issues such as double spending and malicious governance over transactions.
While on the surface this would appear unlikely for Bitmain to do, given the $3-4 billion profits the company reported last year. But if Bitmain suffered a breach in security the attackers would have controlling access over the Bitcoin network.
Such attack would give the hackers control over all future block creation, however new Bitcoins could not be artificially generated due to the nature of DLT. It would be increasingly difficult for attackers to manipulate any blocks that have already been committed to the ledger, particularly those that were created later in time. Because of this, a 51% attack would not necessarily be enough to bring down the network by itself, however excessive double spending could lead to a total collapse in market confidence and bring down the cryptocurrency.