How Breakable Is Bitcoin? A Scenario

Dragos Roua
7 min readMar 4, 2021

Let’s start by saying that I’m an admirer of the blockchain technology and a very early observer of it. Please note I said “early observer”, and not necessarily “early adopter”. When it comes to blockchain, I’m more of a “just in time adopter”, to be honest, and not an early one, because, sometimes, early success might be bad. But that’s another topic.

Beyond the speculative bubble that is engulfing the entire crypto space every 3 years or so (around the “halving” time, for those Bitcoin-savvy), there are a lot of interesting topics to ponder about in this area. So, if you’re here for price predictions, technical analysis (or drawing lines on charts and pretending the reality follows them), well, it’s safe to leave now. But if you’re here for some thought provoking hypothesis related to the overall security of the blockchain, specifically of Bitcoin’s blockchain, grab a coffee. It will take at least 10 minutes.

What Breaking Bitcoin Means?

In my opinion, breaking Bitcoin means proving that access to tokens located at a certain address is unsafe. It doesn’t necessarily mean to break the SHA-256 / RIPEMD-160 algorithms per se (don’t worry if you don’t know what these algorithms are, for now).

In mathematical terms it means to find a repeatable and predictable collision in the address space.

In layman terms, it means finding “the password” or the private key of a Bitcoin address.

Even if this particular event is very difficult to achieve and even if it requires a lot of computing power (the kind that just a nation-state actor can harness), the result will be that Bitcoin is breakable. The value stored in the blockchain is built on top of the trust invested in, and proved by the blockchain. If this trust decreases, or has provable chances to decline, then the trust will decline as well.

It’s important, for me, to start with this definition, because it implies many other components. First of all, it’s not about proving theoretically that cryptography behind it is weak, because it isn’t. I am very well familiar with terms like “untractable problems”, “polinomial times”, “double hashing” and so on and so forth. It’s not about that, because that is solid, it has been audited many times. And second, Bitcoin is not a…

Dragos Roua

Story teller, geek, light seeker and runner. Not necessarily in that order.