The computing code for Segregated Witness will be integrated into the next update of the bitcoin core in the upcoming weeks. The code, however, will not be activated until the release of the version 0.13.1.
Segregated Witness or Segwit is a proposal to allow transaction-producing software to separate (segregate) transaction signatures (witnesses) from the rest of the data in a transaction, and to allow miners to place those witnesses outside of the traditional block structure, according to the Bitcoin Core website.
The developers expect that the implementation of the code before its activation will make the final integration of SegWit safer and smoother. To make testing available to a larger number of developers, the bitcoin core team is going to activate the feature on the bitcoin testnet in regression testing mode. (Update from August 01, 2017: the result of heated debates became Bitcoin Cash)
The code implementation is considered the main change in the next version. In addition to SegWit, the forthcoming update will include such features, as compact block relay, which minimizes the bandwidth needed to propagate new blocks to full nodes, and fee filtering, which enhances the connection between nodes and peers.
SegWit was first introduced to the bitcon community in December, 2015, during the second Bitcoin Scaling Conference in Hong Kong. The event brought together miners, developers and users of digital currency who dicussed the problem of bitcoin scalability.
The system scaling is required given the amount of transactions is steadily growing while the block size remains at 1 MB. SegWit is anticipated to solve the block size issue, providing additional 1 MB of space in a block.
Meantime, there have been reports that the upcoming release of the bitcoin core could be targeted by state sponsored hackers. Bitcoin.org published a message warning its users to be careful while upgrading the software.
Right now, anyone can download the code powering the virtual currency, however, users without technical knowledge can download binaries, a pre-compiled version of the software that can be easily used without special knowledge.
“Bitcoin.org has reason to suspect that the binaries for the upcoming Bitcoin Core release will likely be targeted by state sponsored attackers,” the website wrote.
“As a website, Bitcoin.org does not have the necessary technical resources to guarantee that we can defend ourselves from attackers of this calibre. We ask the Bitcoin community, and in particular the Chinese Bitcoin community to be extra vigilant when downloading binaries from our website.”
It is unknown who is behind the suggested attack and what is the goal of hackers.
“In such a situation, not being careful before you download binaries could cause you to lose all your coins,” the site said. “This malicious software might also cause your computer to participate in attacks against the Bitcoin network. We believe Chinese services such as pools and exchanges are most at risk here due to the origin of the attackers.”
To ensure the binaries you’re using were created by core developers, Bitcoin.org recommends users to verify that the key you download has the fingerprint 01EA5486DE18A882D4C2684590C8019E36C2E964.