A Security Analysis of FirstCoin

Alexander Marsalek, Christian Kollmann, Thomas Zefferer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paperpeer-review


Supported by the current hype on Bitcoin, the number of available cryptocurrencies has steadily increased over the past years. Currently, relevant portals list more than 1.500 cryptocurrencies. Many of them slightly deviate from approved and tested technical concepts and realize security-related functionality in different ways. While the security of major cryptocurrencies has already been studied in more detail, security properties of less popular cryptocurrencies that deviate from approved technical concepts often remain unclear. This is a problem, as users run the risk of losing invested money in case the respective cryptocurrency is unable to provide sufficient security. In this paper, we underpin this statement by means of a detailed analysis of the cryptocurrency FirstCoin. We identify and discuss vulnerabilities of FirstCoin, which lead to a low network hash rate and allow for 51% attacks. We propose a double-spending attack that exploits these vulnerabilities and demonstrate the proposed attack's feasibility by running it in an isolated evaluation environment. This way, we show FirstCoin to be insecure and provide a real-world example that underpins the general problem of cryptocurrencies deviating from approved security concepts and relying on weak security designs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICT Systems Security and Privacy Protection
EditorsLech Jan Janczewski, Miroslaw Kutylowski
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing AG
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-99828-2
Publication statusPublished - 2018
33rd IFIP TC-11 SEC 2018 International Conference on Information Security and Privacy Protection
- Poznań, Poland
Duration: 18 Sept 201820 Sept 2018

Publication series

NameIFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology


33rd IFIP TC-11 SEC 2018 International Conference on Information Security and Privacy Protection
Abbreviated titleIFIP SEC 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'A Security Analysis of FirstCoin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • A-SIT - Secure Information Technology Center Austria

    Stranacher, K., Dominikus, S., Leitold, H., Marsalek, A., Teufl, P., Bauer, W., Aigner, M. J., Rössler, T., Neuherz, E., Dietrich, K., Zefferer, T., Mangard, S., Payer, U., Orthacker, C., Lipp, P., Reiter, A., Knall, T., Bratko, H., Bonato, M., Suzic, B., Zwattendorfer, B., Kreuzhuber, S., Oswald, M. E., Tauber, A., Posch, R., Bratko, D., Feichtner, J., Ivkovic, M., Reimair, F., Wolkerstorfer, J. & Scheibelhofer, K.


    Project: Research area

Cite this