Developers try to attack forked testnets with malicious nodes to see if they can find vulnerabilities.
As the proposed date for the Ethereum Shanghai update approaches, developers have created a test environment called “Shadow Fork,” according to a January 23 tweet thread by Go Ethereum developer Marius van der Weyden. A new testnet appears to have been created to test the necessary conditions for Ether Withdrawals from ETH stakes are currently disabled, but are set to be enabled with an update.
The name of the testnet is Withdrawal-Mainnet-Shadow-Fork-1. According to Web3 Node his Alchemy provider, a “shadow fork” is a fork of the mainnet intended to be used for testing purposes only.
Van Der Wijden said he and another developer named “Potuz” created a malicious node that sent bad blocks and messages to other nodes on the testnet, joining a fake version of the network. I explained that I was trying to persuade him. So far, the network is working fine, but Van Der Wijden said, “I want to see if Potzu and I can break it.” This seems to be done to see if the upgrade can prevent malicious attacks, or if further changes need to be made before being implemented on the mainnet.
This testnet launch comes after developers expressed a growing urgency to make the Ether staking take off. A meeting was held on January 6th and it was agreed to exclude his proposed EVM Object Format (EOF) from the Shanghai upgrade. EOF should facilitate future upgrades for Ethereum.
However, due to its complexity, the developers feared that the implementation of the withdrawal would be delayed and decided to bring it out of Shanghai. According to Nansen’s December report, over 14.5 million ETH (valued at over $23 billion at the time of writing) has been deposited into Ethereum staking contracts and cannot be withdrawn at this time. In November, Ethereum developers were accused of allegedly moving the goalposts when it came to allowing withdrawals.
Currently, the Shanghai upgrade is scheduled to be implemented in March.