Ethereum developers make ‘shadow fork’ to test conditions for Ether withdrawals

Ether Dev Update

In an effort to discover vulnerabilities, developers are using malicious nodes to attack the forked testnet.

According to a Jan. 23 tweet thread by Go-Ethereum developer Marius Van Der Wijden, developers have created a testing environment known as a “shadow fork” as the proposed date for the Ethereum Shanghai update draws closer. The purpose of the new testnet appears to be to test the conditions for Ether staking withdrawals, which are currently disabled but are planned to be enabled in the update.

The testnet is known by its name, “Withdrawal-Mainnet-Shadow-Fork-1.” Alchemy, a provider of Web3 nodes, says that a “shadow fork” is a fork of the mainnet that is only meant to be used for testing.

According to Van Der Wijden, he and another developer by the name of “Potuz” will create malicious nodes that will attempt to persuade other testnet nodes to join a fictitious network by sending malicious blocks and messages. Although Van Der Wijden has stated that he wants to “see if Potuz and I can break it,” the network is currently functioning normally. This seems to be being done to see if the upgrade can stop malicious attacks or if it needs to be changed more before it can be used on the mainnet.

Developers have made it increasingly urgent to implement Ether staking withdrawals, which is why this testnet was launched. They agreed to exclude the proposed EVM Object Format (EOF) from the Shanghai upgrade during a meeting on January 6. The goal of EOF was to make future upgrades to Ethereum simpler. However, the developers decided against including it in Shanghai due to its complexity, fearing that doing so would delay the implementation of the withdrawal.

According to a Nansen report from December, more than 14.5 million ETH—or more than $23 billion at the time of writing—have been deposited into the Ethereum staking contract and cannot currently be withdrawn. Developers of Ethereum received a lot of criticism in November for allegedly moving the goalposts in terms of allowing withdrawals.

Currently, the Shanghai upgrade is expected to be implemented in March.