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Please explain how the sophisticated August 2014 Monero network spam attack was designed and conducted.

How did the Monero core team respond to the attack and prevent any lasting damage?

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You'll find an extensive analysis here.

The tl;dr version is that the attacker exploited an obscure edge-case bug to fork the network. The fork was the intention and the net-effect. The devs promptly notified the community and the exchanges and released a fix.

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