Inscriptions related to Bitcoin have been officially acknowledged as a cybersecurity hazard by the US National Vulnerability Database (NVD). This revelation, dated December 9, emphasizes a security vulnerability that facilitated the development of the Ordinals Protocol in 2022.
Furthermore, according to entries in the database, the circumvention of data carrier restrictions can be achieved by disguising data as code in specific versions of Bitcoin Core and Bitcoin Knots. The document explicitly notes, “Exploited in the wild by Inscriptions in both 2022 and 2023.”
The inclusion in the NVD’s roster signifies the recognition, documentation, and public awareness significance of a specific cybersecurity vulnerability. Managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce, the database plays a crucial role in flagging potential risks.
US National Vulnerability Database Flags Concerns and Exploits in Bitcoin Network
The continuous examination of Bitcoin’s network vulnerability sparks concerns about potential ramifications. One potential impact is the risk of overwhelming the blockchain with significant volumes of non-transactional data.
Additionally, this could lead to an escalation in network size, adversely affecting performance and influencing transaction fees.
On the National Vulnerability Database platform, a recent communication from Bitcoin Core contributor Luke Dashjr on X serves as an informational resource.
Moreover, Dashjr contends that inscriptions exploit a vulnerability in Bitcoin Core. Furthermore, he likens the experience to sorting through daily junk mail to locate genuine contacts, a process that hinders efficiency.
Ordinals Protocol Impact on Bitcoin
The relevance of this vulnerability to Ordinals stems from the nature of inscriptions, involving the embedding of additional data onto a specific satoshi, the smallest unit of Bitcoin. This added data, whether it be an image, text, or other digital media, becomes a permanent fixture within the Bitcoin blockchain with each satoshi it touches.
While the act of embedding data has been a part of the Bitcoin protocol for an extended period, its popularity surged with the introduction of Ordinals in late 2022. This protocol allowed for the direct embedding of unique digital art into Bitcoin transactions, akin to the functioning of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) on the Ethereum network.
The heightened volume of Ordinals transactions led to multiple instances of network congestion for Bitcoin in 2023. Moreover, this congestion intensified competition for transaction confirmations, resulting in increased fees and prolonged processing times.
Patching Bitcoin Vulnerability and the Fate of Ordinals Inscriptions
Contemplating a potential patch for the vulnerability, questions arise regarding its impact on Ordinals inscriptions within the network.
Subsequently, in response to whether Ordinals and BRC-20 tokens would cease to exist if the vulnerability were rectified, Dashjr concurred, stating, “Correct.” However, existing inscriptions would persist due to the network’s inherent immutability.