As expected, the Bitcoin Foundation has responded to Mt. Gox’s claims this morning that a ‘bug’ in the bitcoin software is responsible for their halt of withdrawals, with a statement titled “Contrary to Mt. Gox’s Statement, Bitcoin is not at fault” coming from Gavin Andresen.
The statement opens up boldly:
The issues that Mt. Gox has been experiencing are due to an unfortunate interaction between Mt. Gox’s implementation of their highly customized wallet software, their customer support procedures, and their unpreparedness for transaction malleability, a technical detail that allows changes to the way transactions are identified.
Andresen confirmed that transaction malleability (the flaw in which transaction IDs can be renamed before being committed to the blockchain) has been known since 2011, and is not something that “cannot be corrected overnight”.
That said, Andresen noted that “any company dealing with Bitcoin transactions and have coded their own wallet software should responsibly prepare for this possibility and include in their software a way to validate transaction ID’s.”
Failure to do so could result in Bitcoin loss, which may be a reason why Mt. Gox had put a microscope on their withdrawals and subsequently halted them.
The Bitcoin core development team has worked to limit transaction malleability. There is broad agreement in the community that this needs to be eliminated. Finding the best and most responsible solution will take time. In the meantime, users of the reference implementation do not need to be concerned. Transactions are always tracked properly by the Bitcoin-Qt/bitcoind software.
As Andresen reminds us, bitcoin is still very much in its infancy. There are bound to be issues. With time and patience, however, they can be resolved to make a stronger digital currency.
Read the statement in full here.