What Is An Eclipse Attack?

An eclipse attack is a type of attack on a blockchain network that targets a specific node or group of nodes in the network. The goal of an eclipse attack is to isolate the targeted node(s) from the rest of the network, essentially "eclipsing" it from the network, and preventing it from communicating with the other nodes.

An attacker can perform an eclipse attack by creating a large number of nodes that mimic or impersonate the targeted node(s) and then connecting these nodes to the targeted node(s). The attacker can then manipulate these fake nodes to control the information that the targeted node(s) receive, and prevent it from receiving information from the other legitimate nodes.

This can be used to prevent a node from participating in consensus, block validation, or other network-wide functions, allowing the attacker to control or manipulate the network.

In the case of a public blockchain, the attacker could prevent a miner or validator node from participating in the validation of blocks, and prevent it from earning rewards or participating in the network. In private or consortium blockchain, an attacker could control or halt the business or operational activities of a specific group or enterprise node.

An eclipse attack can be mitigated by implementing a peer-discovery mechanism that can detect and prevent fake nodes from connecting to the network, and by ensuring that the targeted node is connected to a diverse set of peers and not relying on a single entry point. Additionally, the use of a whitelist to only accept connections from known nodes, node reputation management systems and network segmentation can also be effective in preventing or mitigating the attack.

Eclipse attacks are not common in most blockchain networks, but it's important to be aware of this type of attack and take proper steps to protect the network from them.