Papers tagged as Blockchains
  1. Bolt: Anonymous Payment Channels for Decentralized Currencies 2017 Blockchains CCS Implementation PaymentChannels acmccs.github.io
    Matthew Green and Ian Miers

    Bitcoin owes its success to the fact that transactions are transparently recorded in the blockchain, a global public ledger that removes the need for trusted parties. Unfortunately, recording every transaction in the blockchain causes privacy, latency, and scalability issues. Building on recent proposals for “micropayment channels” — two party associations that use the ledger only for dispute resolution — we introduce techniques for constructing anonymous payment channels. Our proposals allow for secure, instantaneous and private payments that substantially reduce the storage burden on the payment network. Specifically, we introduce three channel proposals, including a technique that allows payments via untrusted intermediaries. We build a concrete implementation of our scheme and show that it can be deployed via a soft fork to existing anonymous currencies such as ZCash.

  2. Concurrency and Privacy with Payment-Channel Networks 2017 Blockchains CCS UC acmccs.github.io
    Giulio Malavolta, Pedro Moreno-Sanchez, Aniket Kate, Matteo Maffei, and Srivatsan Ravi

    Permissionless blockchains protocols such as Bitcoin are inherently limited in transaction throughput and latency. Current efforts to address this key issue focus on off-chain payment channels that can be combined in a Payment-Channel Network (PCN) to enable an unlimited number of payments without requiring to access the blockchain other than to register the initial and final capacity of each channel. While this approach paves the way for low latency and high throughput of payments, its deployment in practice raises several privacy concerns as well as technical challenges related to the inherently concurrent nature of payments that have not been sufficiently studied so far. In this work, we lay the foundations for privacy and concurrency in PCNs, presenting a formal definition in the Universal Composability framework as well as practical and provably secure solutions. In particular, we present Fulgor and Rayo. Fulgor is the first payment protocol for PCNs that provides provable privacy guarantees for PCNs and is fully compatible with the Bitcoin scripting system. However, Fulgor is a blocking protocol and therefore prone to deadlocks of concurrent payments as in currently available PCNs. Instead, Rayo is the first protocol for PCNs that enforces non-blocking progress (i.e., at least one of the concurrent payments terminates). We show through a new impossibility result that non-blocking progress necessarily comes at the cost of weaker privacy. At the core of Fulgor and Rayo is Multi-Hop HTLC, a new smart contract, compatible with the Bitcoin scripting system, that provides conditional payments while reducing running time and communication overhead with respect to previous approaches. Our performance evaluation of Fulgor and Rayo shows that a payment with 10 intermediate users takes as few as 5 seconds, thereby demonstrating their feasibility to be deployed in practice.

  3. Zero-Knowledge Contingent Payments Revisited: Attacks and Payments for Services 2017 Attacks Blockchains CCS Hashing Implementation ZK acmccs.github.io
    Matteo Campanelli, Rosario Gennaro, Steven Goldfeder, and Luca Nizzardo

    Zero Knowledge Contingent Payment (ZKCP) protocols allow fair exchange of sold goods and payments over the Bitcoin network. In this paper we point out two main shortcomings of current proposals for ZKCP, and propose ways to address them.


    First we show an attack that allows a buyer to learn partial information about the digital good being sold, without paying for it. This break in the zero-knowledge condition of ZKCP is due to the fact that in the protocols we attack, the buyer is allowed to choose common parameters that normally should be selected by a trusted third party. We implemented and tested this attack: we present code that learns, without paying, the value of a Sudoku cell in the “Pay-to-Sudoku” ZKCP implementation. We also present ways to fix this attack that do not require a trusted third party.


    Second, we show that ZKCP are not suited for the purchase of digital services rather than goods. Current constructions of ZKCP do not allow a seller to receive payments after proving that a certain service has been rendered, but only for the sale of a specific digital good. We define the notion of Zero-Knowledge Contingent Service Payment (ZKCSP) protocols and construct two new protocols, for either public or private verification. We implemented our ZKCSP protocols for Proofs of Retrievability, where a client pays the server for providing a proof that the client’s data is correctly stored by the server.We also implement a secure ZKCP protocol for “Pay-to-Sudoku” via our ZKCSP protocol, which does not require a trusted third party.


    A side product of our implementation effort is a new optimized circuit for SHA256 with less than a quarter than the number of AND gates of the best previously publicly available one. Our new SHA256 circuit may be of independent use for circuit-based MPC and FHE protocols that require SHA256 circuits.

  4. Tesseract: Real-Time Cryptocurrency Exchange using Trusted Hardware 2019 Blockchains CCS IntelSGX eprint.iacr.org
    Iddo Bentov, Yan Ji, Fan Zhang, Yunqi Li, Xueyuan Zhao, Lorenz Breidenbach, Philip Daian and Ari Juels

    We propose Tesseract, a secure real-time cryptocurrency exchange service. Existing centralized exchange designs are vulnerable to theft of funds, while decentralized exchanges cannot offer real-time cross-chain trades. All currently deployed exchanges are also vulnerable to frontrunning attacks. Tesseract overcomes these flaws and achieves a best-of-both-worlds design by using Intel SGX as a trusted execution environment. Furthermore, by running a consensus protocol among SGX-enabled servers, Tesseract mitigates denial-of-service attacks. Tesseract supports not only real-time cross-chain cryptocurrency trades, but also secure tokenization of assets pegged to cryptocurrencies. For instance, Tesseract-tokenized bitcoins can circulate on the Ethereum blockchain for use in smart contracts. We provide a reference implementation of Tesseract that supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, and similar cryptocurrencies.

  5. SAMPL: Scalable Auditability of Monitoring Processes using Public Ledgers 2019 Blockchains CCS Privacy cs.nmsu.edu
    Gaurav Panwar, Roopa Vishwanathan, Satyajayant Misra, and Austin Bos

    Organized surveillance, especially by governments poses a major challenge to individual privacy, due to the resources governments have at their disposal, and the possibility of overreach. Given the impact of invasive monitoring, in most democratic countries, government surveillance is, in theory, monitored and subject to public oversight to guard against violations. In practice, there is a difficult fine balance between safeguarding individual’s privacy rights and not diluting the efficacy of national security investigations, as exemplified by reports on government surveillance programs that have caused public controversy, and have been challenged by civil and privacy rights organizations. Surveillance is generally conducted through a mechanism where federal agencies obtain a warrant from a federal or state judge (e.g., the US FISA court, Supreme Court in Canada) to subpoena a company or service-provider (e.g., Google, Microsoft) for their customers’ data. The courts provide annual statistics on the requests (accepted, rejected), while the companies provide annual transparency reports for public auditing. However, in practice, the statistical information provided by the courts and companies is at a very high level, generic, is released after-the-fact, and is inadequate for auditing the operations. Often this is attributed to the lack of scalable mechanisms for reporting and transparent auditing. In this paper, we present SAMPL, a novel auditing framework which leverages cryptographic mechanisms, such as zero knowledge proofs, Pedersen commitments, Merkle trees, and public ledgers to create a scalable mechanism for auditing electronic surveillance processes involving multiple actors. SAMPL is the first framework that can identify the actors (e.g., agencies and companies) that violate the purview of the court orders. We experimentally demonstrate the scalability for SAMPL for handling concurrent monitoring processes without undermining their secrecy and auditability.

  6. Privacy Aspects and Subliminal Channels in Zcash 2019 Blockchains CCS Privacy orbilu.uni.lu
    Alex Biryukov, Daniel Feher, and Giuseppe Vitto

    In this paper we analyze two privacy and security issues for the privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Zcash. First we study shielded transactions and show ways to fingerprint user transactions, including active attacks. We introduce two new attacks which we call Danaan-gift attack and Dust attack. Following the recent Sapling update of Zcash protocol we study the interaction between the new and the old zk-SNARK protocols and the effects of their interaction on transaction privacy. In the second part of the paper we check for the presence of subliminal channels in the zk-SNARK protocol and in Pedersen Commitments. We show presence of efficient 70-bit channels which could be used for tagging of shielded transactions which would allow the attacker (malicious transaction verifier) to link transactions issued by a maliciously modified zk-SNARK prover, while would be indistinguishable from regular transactions for the honest verifier/user. We discuss countermeasures against both of these privacy issues.

  7. Omniring: Scaling Private Payments Without Trusted Setup 2019 Blockchains CCS Privacy eprint.iacr.org
    Russell W. F. Lai, Viktoria Ronge, Tim Ruffing, Dominique Schröder, Sri Aravinda Krishnan Thyagarajan and Jiafan Wang

    Monero is the largest cryptocurrency with built-in cryptographic privacy features. The transactions are authenticated using spend proofs, which provide a certain level of anonymity by hiding the source accounts from which the funds are sent among a set (known as a ring) of other accounts. Due to its similarities to ring signatures, this core cryptographic component is called Ring Confidential Transactions (RingCT). Because of its practical relevance, several works attempt to analyze the security of RingCT. However, due to the complexity of RingCT they are either informal, miss fundamental functionalities, or introduce undesirable trusted setup assumptions. Regarding efficiency, Monero currently deploys a scheme in which the size of the spend proof is linear in the ring size. This limits the ring size to only a few accounts, which in turn limits the acquired anonymity significantly and facilitates de-anonymization attacks.


    As a solution to these problems, we present the first complete rigorous formalization of RingCT as a cryptographic primitive. We then propose a generic construction of RingCT and prove it secure in our formal security model. By instantiating our generic construction with new efficient zero-knowledge proofs we obtain Omniring, a fully-fledged RingCT scheme in the discrete logarithm setting that provides the highest concrete and asymptotic efficiency as of today. Omniring is the first RingCT scheme which 1) does not require a trusted setup or pairing-friendly elliptic curves, 2) has a proof size logarithmic in the size of the ring, and 3) allows to share the same ring between all source accounts in a transaction, thereby enabling significantly improved privacy level without sacrificing performance. Our zero-knowledge proofs rely on novel enhancements to the Bulletproofs framework (S&P 2018), which we believe are of independent interest.

  8. MatRiCT: Efficient, Scalable and Post-Quantum Blockchain Confidential Transactions Protocol 2019 Blockchains CCS Lattices PQC Signatures eprint.iacr.org
    Muhammed F. Esgin, Raymond K. Zhao, Ron Steinfeld, Joseph K. Liu and Dongxi Liu

    We introduce MatRiCT, an efficient RingCT protocol for blockchain confidential transactions, whose security is based on ``post-quantum’’ (module) lattice assumptions. The proof length of the protocol is around two orders of magnitude shorter than the existing post-quantum proposal, and scales efficiently to large anonymity sets, unlike the existing proposal. Further, we provide the first full implementation of a post-quantum RingCT, demonstrating the practicality of our scheme. In particular, a typical transaction can be generated in a fraction of a second and verified in about 23 ms on a standard PC. Moreover, we show how our scheme can be extended to provide auditability, where a user can select a particular authority from a set of authorities to reveal her identity. The user also has the ability to select no auditing and all these auditing options may co-exist in the same environment.


    The key ingredients, introduced in this work, of MatRiCT are 1) the shortest to date scalable ring signature from standard lattice assumptions with no Gaussian sampling required, 2) a novel balance zero-knowledge proof and 3) a novel extractable commitment scheme from (module) lattices. We believe these ingredients to be of independent interest for other privacy-preserving applications such as secure e-voting. Despite allowing 64-bit precision for transaction amounts, our new balance proof, and thus our protocol, does not require a range proof on a wide range (such as 32- or 64-bit ranges), which has been a major obstacle against efficient lattice-based solutions.


    Further, we provide new formal definitions for RingCT-like protocols, where the real-world blockchain setting is captured more closely. The definitions are applicable in a generic setting, and thus are believed to contribute to the development of future confidential transaction protocols in general (not only in the lattice setting).

  9. HoneyBadgerMPC and AsynchroMix: Practical AsynchronousMPC and its Application to Anonymous Communication 2019 Blockchains CCS MPC eprint.iacr.org
    Donghang Lu, Thomas Yurek, Samarth Kulshreshtha, Rahul Govind, Rahul Mahadev, Aniket Kate and Andrew Miller

    Multiparty computation as a service (MPSaaS) is a promising approach for building privacy-preserving communication systems.However, in this paper, we argue that existing MPC implementations are inadequate for this application as they do not address fairness, let alone robustness. Even a single malicious server can cause the protocol to abort while seeing the output for itself, which in the context of an anonymous communication service would create a vulnerability to censorship and deanonymization attacks. To remedy this we propose a new MPC implementation, HoneyBadgerMPC, that combines a robust online phase with an optimistic offline phase that is efficient enough to run continuously alongside the online phase. We use HoneyBadgerMPC to develop an application case study, called AsynchroMix, that provides an anonymous broadcast functionality. AsynchroMix features a novel MPC program that trades off between computation and communication, allowing for low-latency message mixing in varying settings. In a cloud-based distributed benchmark with 100 nodes, we demonstrate mixing a batch of 512 messages in around 20 seconds and up to 4096 messages in around two minutes.

  10. Efficient Publicly Verifiable 2PC over a Blockchain with Applications to Financially-Secure Computations 2019 Blockchains CCS MPC homes.sice.indiana.edu
    Ruiyu Zhum, Changchang Ding, and Yan Huang

    We present a new efficient two-party secure computation protocol which allows the honest party to catch dishonest behavior (if any) with a publicly-verifiable, non-repudiable proof without sacrificing the honest party’s secret. Comparing to the best existing protocol of its kind, ours requires a substantially simpler judge algorithm and is able to process circuit evaluator’s input-wires two orders of magnitude faster. Further, we propose an automated, decentralized judge implemented as a blockchain smart-contract. As a killer application of combining our two-party PVC protocol with our decentralized judge, we proposed the concept of financially-secure computation, which can be useful in many practical scenarios where it suffices to consider rational adversaries. We experimentally evaluated our prototype implementation, demonstrated the 2PC protocol is highly efficient and the judge is very affordable to protect users against rational attackers.

  11. DIZK: A Distributed Zero Knowledge Proof System 2018 Blockchains Usenix ZK usenix.org
    Howard Wu, Wenting Zheng, Alessandro Chiesa, Raluca Ada Popa, and Ion Stoica

    Recently there has been much academic and industrial interest in practical implementations of zero knowledge proofs. These techniques allow a party to prove to another party that a given statement is true without revealing any additional information. In a Bitcoin-like system, this allows a payer to prove validity of a payment without disclosing the payment’s details. Unfortunately, the existing systems for generating such proofs are very expensive, especially in terms of memory overhead. Worse yet, these systems are “monolithic”, so they are limited by the memory resources of a single machine. This severely limits their practical applicability. We describe DIZK, a system that distributes the generation of a zero knowledge proof across machines in a compute cluster. Using a set of new techniques, we show that DIZK scales to computations of up to billions of logical gates (100× larger than prior art) at a cost of 10μs per gate (100× faster than prior art). We then use DIZK to study various security applications.

  12. REM: Resource-Efficient Mining for Blockchains 2017 Blockchains Usenix usenix.org
    Fan Zhang, Ittay Eyal, Robert Escriva, Ari Juels, and Robbert van Renesse

    Blockchains show promise as potential infrastructure for financial transaction systems. The security of blockchains today, however, relies critically on Proof-of- Work (PoW), which forces participants to waste computational resources.


    We present REM (Resource-Efficient Mining), a new blockchain mining framework that uses trusted hardware (Intel SGX). REM achieves security guarantees similar to PoW, but leverages the partially decentralized trust model inherent in SGX to achieve a fraction of the waste of PoW. Its key idea, Proof-of-Useful-Work (PoUW), involves miners providing trustworthy reporting on CPU cycles they devote to inherently useful workloads. REM flexibly allows any entity to create a useful workload. REM ensures the trustworthiness of these workloads by means of a novel scheme of hierarchical attestations that may be of independent interest.


    To address the risk of compromised SGX CPUs, we develop a statistics-based formal security framework, also relevant to other trusted-hardware-based approaches such as Intel’s Proof of Elapsed Time (PoET). We show through economic analysis that REM achieves less waste than PoET and variant schemes.


    We implement REM and, as an example application, swap it into the consensus layer of Bitcoin core. The result is the first full implementation of an SGX-based blockchain. We experiment with four example applications as useful workloads for our implementation of REM, and report a computational overhead of 5—15%.

  13. SmartPool: Practical Decentralized Pooled Mining 2017 Blockchains Usenix usenix.org
    Loi Luu, Yaron Velner, Jason Teutsch, and Prateek Saxena

    Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are operated by a handful of mining pools. Nearly 95% of Bitcoin’s and 80% of Ethereum’s mining power resides with less than ten and six mining pools respectively. Although miners benefit from low payout variance in pooled mining, centralized mining pools require members to trust that pool operators will remunerate them fairly. Furthermore, centralized pools pose the risk of transaction censorship from pool operators, and open up possibilities for collusion between pools for perpetrating severe attacks.


    In this work, we propose SMARTPOOL, a novel protocol design for a decentralized mining pool. Our protocol shows how one can leverage smart contracts, autonomous blockchain programs, to decentralize cryptocurrency mining. SMARTPOOL gives transaction selection control back to miners while yielding low-variance payouts. SMARTPOOL incurs mining fees lower than centralized mining pools and is designed to scale to a large number of miners. We implemented and deployed a robust SMARTPOOL implementation on the Ethereum and Ethereum Classic networks. To date, our deployed pools have handled a peak hashrate of 30 GHs from Ethereum miners, resulting in 105 blocks, costing miners a mere 0:6% of block rewards in transaction fees.

  14. Bitcoin vs. Bitcoin Cash: Coexistence or Downfall of Bitcoin Cash? 2019 Bitcoin Blockchains e-cash Oakland arxiv.org
    Yujin Kwon, Hyoungshick Kim, Jinwoo Shin and Yongdae Kim

    In Aug. 2017, Bitcoin was split into the original Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Since then, miners have had a choice between BTC and BCH mining because they have compatible proof-of-work algorithms. Therefore, they can freely choose which coin to mine for higher profit, where the profitability depends on both the coin price and mining difficulty. Some miners can immediately switch the coin to mine only when mining difficulty changes because the difficulty changes are more predictable than that for the coin price, and we call this behavior fickle mining.
    In this paper, we study the effects of fickle mining by modeling a game between two coins. To do this, we consider both fickle miners and some factions (e.g., BITMAIN for BCH mining) that stick to mining one coin to maintain that chain. In this model, we show that fickle mining leads to a Nash equilibrium in which only a faction sticking to its coin mining remains as a loyal miner to the less valued coin (e.g., BCH), where loyal miners refer to those who conduct mining even after coin mining difficulty increases. This situation would cause severe centralization, weakening the security of the coin system.
    To determine which equilibrium the competing coin systems (e.g., BTC vs. BCH) are moving toward, we traced the historical changes of mining power for BTC and BCH. In addition, we analyze the recent “hash war” between Bitcoin ABC and SV, which confirms our theoretical analysis. Finally, we note that our results can be applied to any competing cryptocurrency systems in which the same hardware (e.g., ASICs or GPUs) can be used for mining. Therefore, our study brings new and important angles in competitive coin markets: a coin can intentionally weaken the security and decentralization level of the other rival coin when mining hardware is shared between them, allowing for automatic mining.

  15. Ouroboros Crypsinous: Privacy-Preserving Proof-of-Stake 2019 Blockchains e-cash Oakland eprint.iacr.org
    Thomas Kerber, Markulf Kohlweiss, Aggelos Kiayias and Vassilis Zikas

    We present Ouroboros Crypsinous, the first formally analyzed privacy-preserving proof-of-stake blockchain protocol. To model its security we give a thorough treatment of private ledgers in the (G)UC setting that might be of independent interest.


    To prove our protocol secure against adaptive attacks, we introduce a new coin evolution technique relying on SNARKs and key-private forward secure encryption. The latter primitive—and the associated construction—can be of independent interest. We stress that existing approaches to private blockchain, such as the proof-of-work-based Zerocash are analyzed only against static corruptions.

  16. Proof-of-Stake Sidechains 2019 Blockchains e-cash Oakland eprint.iacr.org
    Peter Gazi, Aggelos Kiayias, and Dionysis Zindros

    Sidechains have long been heralded as the key enabler of blockchain scalability and interoperability. However, no modeling of the concept or a provably secure construction has so far been attempted.
    We provide the first formal definition of what a sidechain system is and how assets can be moved between sidechains securely. We put forth a security definition that augments the known transaction ledger properties of liveness and safety to hold across multiple ledgers and enhance them with a new “firewall” security property which safeguards each blockchain from its sidechains, limiting the impact of an otherwise catastrophic sidechain failure.
    We then provide a sidechain construction that is suitable for proof-of-stake (PoS) sidechain systems. As an exemplary concrete instantiation we present our construction for an epoch- based PoS system consistent with Ouroboros (Crypto 2017), the PoS blockchain protocol used in Cardano which is one of the largest pure PoS systems by market capitalisation, and we also comment how the construction can be adapted for other protocols such as Ouroboros Praos (Eurocrypt 2018), Ouroboros Genesis (CCS 2018), Snow White and Algorand. An important feature of our construction is merged-staking that prevents “goldfinger” attacks against a sidechain that is only carrying a small amount of stake. An important technique for pegging chains that we use in our construction is cross-chain certification which is facilitated by a novel cryptographic primitive we introduce called ad-hoc threshold multisignatures (ATMS) which may be of independent interest. We show how ATMS can be securely instantiated by regular and aggregate digital signatures as well as succinct arguments of knowledge such as STARKs and bulletproofs with varying degrees of storage efficiency.

  17. Redactable Blockchain in the Permissionless Setting 2019 Blockchains e-cash Oakland arxiv.org
    Dominic Deuber, Bernardo Magri and Sri Aravinda Krishnan Thyagarajan

    Bitcoin is an immutable permissionless blockchain system that has been extensively used as a public bulletin board by many different applications that heavily relies on its immutability. However, Bitcoin’s immutability is not without its fair share of demerits. Interpol exposed the existence of harmful and potentially illegal documents, images and links in the Bitcoin blockchain, and since then there have been several qualitative and quantitative analysis on the types of data currently residing in the Bitcoin blockchain.


    Although there is a lot of attention on blockchains, surprisingly the previous solutions proposed for data redaction in the permissionless setting are far from feasible, and require additional trust assumptions. Hence, the problem of harmful data still poses a huge challenge for law enforcement agencies like Interpol (Tziakouris, IEEE S&P’18).


    We propose the first efficient redactable blockchain for the permissionless setting that is easily integrable into Bitcoin, and that does not rely on heavy cryptographic tools or trust assumptions. Our protocol uses a consensus-based voting and is parameterised by a policy that dictates the requirements and constraints for the redactions; if a redaction gathers enough votes the operation is performed on the chain. As an extra feature, our protocol offers public verifiability and accountability for the redacted chain. Moreover, we provide formal security definitions and proofs showing that our protocol is secure against redactions that were not agreed by consensus. Additionally, we show the viability of our approach with a proof-of-concept implementation that shows only a tiny overhead in the chain validation of our protocol when compared to an immutable one.

  18. Perun: Virtual Payment Hubs over Cryptocurrencies 2019 Blockchains e-cash Oakland eprint.iacr.org
    Stefan Dziembowski, Lisa Eckey, Sebastian Faust and Daniel Malinowski

    Payment channels emerged recently as an efficient method for performing cheap micropayments in cryptocurrencies. In contrast to traditional on-chain transactions, payment channels have the advantage that they allow for nearly unlimited number of transactions between parties without involving the blockchain. In this work, we introduce Perun, an off-chain channel system that offers a new method for connecting channels that is more efficient than the existing technique of “routing transactions” over multiple channels. To this end, Perun introduces a technique called “virtual payment channels” that avoids involvement of the intermediary for each individual payment. In this paper we formally model and prove security of this technique in the case of one intermediary, who can be viewed as a “payment hub” that has direct channels with several parties. Our scheme works over any cryptocurrency that provides Turing-complete smart contracts. As a proof of concept, we implemented Perun’s smart contracts in Ethereum.

  19. Constructing an Adversary Solver for Equihash 2019 Blockchains NDSS ProofOfWork ndss-symposium.org
    Xiaofei Bai and Jian Gao and Chenglong Hu and Liang Zhang

    Blockchain networks, especially cryptocurrencies, rely heavily on proof-of-work (PoW) systems, often as a basis to distribute rewards. These systems require solving specific puzzles, where Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) can be designed for performance or efficiency. Either way, ASICs surpass CPUs and GPUs by orders of magnitude, and may harm blockchain networks. Recently, Equihash is developed to resist ASIC solving with heavy memory usage. Although commercial ASIC solvers exist for its most popular parameter set, such solvers do not work under better ones, and are considered impossible under optimal parameters. In this paper, we inspect the ASIC resistance of Equihash by constructing a parameter-independent adversary solver design. We evaluate the product, and project at least 10x efficiency advantage for resourceful adversaries. We contribute to the security community in two ways: (1) by revealing the limitation of Equihash and raising awareness about its algorithmic factors, and (2) by demonstrating that security inspection is practical and useful on PoW systems, serving as a start point for future research and development.

  20. Anonymous Multi-Hop Locks for Blockchain Scalability and Interoperability 2019 Blockchains NDSS PaymentChannels Privacy ndss-symposium.org
    Giulio Malavolta and Pedro Moreno Sanchez and Clara Schneidewind and Aniket Kate and Matteo Maffei

    Tremendous growth in cryptocurrency usage is exposing the inherent scalability issues with permissionless blockchain technology. Payment-channel networks (PCNs) have emerged as the most widely deployed solution to mitigate the scalability issues, allowing the bulk of payments between two users to be carried out off-chain. Unfortunately, as reported in the literature and further demonstrated in this paper, current PCNs do not provide meaningful security and privacy guarantees [30], [40].


    In this work, we study and design secure and privacy-preserving PCNs. We start with a security analysis of existing PCNs, reporting a new attack that applies to all major PCNs, including the Lightning Network, and allows an attacker to steal the fees from honest intermediaries in the same payment path. We then formally define anonymous multi-hop locks (AMHLs), a novel cryptographic primitive that serves as a cornerstone for the design of secure and privacy-preserving PCNs. We present several provably secure cryptographic instantiations that make AMHLs compatible with the vast majority of cryptocurrencies. In particular, we show that (linear) homomorphic one-way functions suffice to construct AMHLs for PCNs supporting a script language (e.g., Ethereum). We also propose a construction based on ECDSA signatures that does not require scripts, thus solving a prominent open problem in the field.


    AMHLs constitute a generic primitive whose usefulness goes beyond multi-hop payments in a single PCN and we show how to realize atomic swaps and interoperable PCNs from this primitive. Finally, our performance evaluation on a commodity machine finds that AMHL operations can be performed in less than 100 milliseconds and require less than 500 bytes of communication overhead, even in the worst case. In fact, after acknowledging our attack, the Lightning Network developers have implemented our ECDSA-based AMHLs into their PCN. This demonstrates the practicality of our approach and its impact on the security, privacy, interoperability, and scalability of today’s cryptocurrencies.

  21. Vault: Fast Bootstrapping for the Algorand Cryptocurrency 2019 Blockchains Consensus NDSS ndss-symposium.org
    Derek Leung and Adam Suhl and Yossi Gilad and Nickolai Zeldovich

    Decentralized cryptocurrencies rely on participants to keep track of the state of the system in order to verify new transactions. As the number of users and transactions grows, this requirement becomes a significant burden, requiring users to download, verify, and store a large amount of data to participate.


    Vault is a new cryptocurrency design based on Algorand that minimizes these storage and bootstrapping costs for participants. Vault’s design is based on Algorand’s proof-of-stake consensus protocol and uses several techniques to achieve its goals. First, Vault decouples the storage of recent transactions from the storage of account balances, which enables Vault to delete old account state. Second, Vault allows sharding state across participants in a way that preserves strong security guarantees. Finally, Vault introduces the notion of stamping certificates, which allow a new client to catch up securely and efficiently in a proof-of-stake system without having to verify every single block.


    Experiments with a prototype implementation of Vault’s data structures show that Vault’s design reduces the bandwidth cost of joining the network as a full client by 99.7% compared to Bitcoin and 90.5% compared to Ethereum when downloading a ledger containing 500 million transactions.

  22. Coconut: Threshold Issuance Selective Disclosure Credentials with Applications to Distributed Ledgers 2019 AnonymousCredentials Blockchains NDSS Privacy ndss-symposium.org
    Alberto Sonnino and Mustafa Al-Bassam and Shehar Bano and Sarah Meiklejohn and George Danezis

    Coconut is a novel selective disclosure credential scheme supporting distributed threshold issuance, public and private attributes, re-randomization, and multiple unlinkable selective attribute revelations. Coconut integrates with Blockchains to ensure confidentiality, authenticity and availability even when a subset of credential issuing authorities are malicious or offline. We implement and evaluate a generic Coconut smart contract library for Chainspace and Ethereum; and present three applications related to anonymous payments, electronic petitions, and distribution of proxies for censorship resistance.


    Coconut uses short and computationally efficient credentials, and our evaluation shows that most Coconut cryptographic primitives take just a few milliseconds on average, with verification taking the longest time (10 milliseconds).

  23. SABRE: Protecting Bitcoin against Routing Attacks 2019 Bitcoin Blockchains NDSS ndss-symposium.org
    Maria Apostolaki and Gian Marti and Jan Müller and Laurent Vanbever

    Nowadays Internet routing attacks remain practi- cally effective as existing countermeasures either fail to provide protection guarantees or are not easily deployable. Blockchain systems are particularly vulnerable to such attacks as they rely on Internet-wide communications to reach consensus. In particular, Bitcoin—the most widely-used cryptocurrency—can be split in half by any AS-level adversary using BGP hijacking.


    In this paper, we present SABRE, a secure and scalable Bitcoin relay network which relays blocks worldwide through a set of connections that are resilient to routing attacks. SABRE runs alongside the existing peer-to-peer network and is easily deployable. As a critical system, SABRE design is highly resilient and can efficiently handle high bandwidth loads, including Denial of Service attacks.


    We built SABRE around two key technical insights. First, we leverage fundamental properties of inter-domain routing (BGP) policies to host relay nodes: (i) in networks that are inherently protected against routing attacks; and (ii) on paths that are economically-preferred by the majority of Bitcoin clients. These properties are generic and can be used to protect other Blockchain-based systems. Second, we leverage the fact that relaying blocks is communication-heavy, not computation-heavy. This enables us to offload most of the relay operations to programmable network hardware (using the P4 programming language). Thanks to this hardware/software co-design, SABRE nodes operate seamlessly under high load while mitigating the effects of malicious clients.


    We present a complete implementation of SABRE together with an extensive evaluation. Our results demonstrate that SABRE is effective at securing Bitcoin against routing attacks, even with deployments of as few as 6 nodes.

  24. Fine-Grained and Controlled Rewriting in Blockchains: Chameleon-Hashing Gone Attribute-Based 2019 Blockchains NDSS ndss-symposium.org
    David Derler and Kai Samelin and Daniel Slamanig and Christoph Striecks

    Blockchain technologies recently received a considerable amount of attention. While the initial focus was mainly on the use of blockchains in the context of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, application scenarios now go far beyond this. Most blockchains have the property that once some object, e.g., a block or a transaction, has been registered to be included into the blockchain, it is persisted and there are no means to modify it again. While this is an essential feature of most blockchain scenarios, it is still often desirable—at times it may be even legally required–to allow for breaking this immutability in a controlled way.


    Only recently, Ateniese et al. (EuroS&P 2017) proposed an elegant solution to this problem on the block level. Thereby, the authors replace standard hash functions with so-called chameleon-hashes (Krawczyk and Rabin, NDSS 2000). While their work seems to offer a suited solution to the problem of controlled re-writing of blockchains, their approach is too coarse-grained in that it only offers an all-or-nothing solution. We revisit this idea and introduce the novel concept of policy-based chameleon-hashes (PBCH). PBCHs generalize the notion of chameleon-hashes by giving the party computing a hash the ability to associate access policies to the generated hashes. Anyone who possesses enough privileges to satisfy the policy can then find arbitrary collisions for a given hash. We then apply this concept to transaction-level rewriting within blockchains, and thus support fine-grained and controlled modifiability of blockchain objects.


    Besides modeling PBCHs, we present a generic construction of PBCHs (using a strengthened version of chameleon-hashes with ephemeral trapdoors which we also introduce), rigorously prove its security, and instantiate it with efficient building blocks. We report first implementation results.

  25. P2P Mixing and Unlinkable Bitcoin Transactions 2017 Blockchains NDSS Privacy eprint.iacr.org
    Tim Ruffing and Pedro Moreno-Sanchez and Aniket Kate

    Starting with Dining Cryptographers networks (DC-nets), several peer-to-peer (P2P) anonymous communication protocols have been proposed. However, despite their strong anonymity guarantees, none of them have been employed in practice so far: Most protocols fail to simultaneously address the crucial problems of slot collisions and disruption by malicious peers, while the remaining ones handle f malicious peers with O(f2) communication rounds. We conceptualize these P2P anonymous communication protocols as P2P mixing, and present a novel P2P mixing protocol, DiceMix, that needs only four communication rounds in the best case, and 4 + 2f rounds in the worst case with f malicious peers. As every individual malicious peer can force a restart of a P2P mixing protocol by simply omitting his messages, we find DiceMix with its worst-case complexity of O(f) rounds to be an optimal P2P mixing solution.


    On the application side, we employ DiceMix to improve anonymity in crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin. The public verifiability of their pseudonymous transactions through publicly available ledgers (or blockchains) makes these systems highly vulnerable to a variety of linkability and deanonymization attacks. We use DiceMix to define CoinShuffle++, a coin mixing protocol that enables pseudonymous peers to perform unlinkable transactions in a manner fully compatible with the current Bitcoin system. Moreover, we demonstrate the efficiency of our protocols with a proof-of-concept implementation. In our evaluation, DiceMix requires less than eight seconds to mix 50 messages (160 bits, i.e., Bitcoin addresses), while the best protocol in the literature requires almost three minutes in the same setting.


    Finally, we present a deanonymization attack on existing P2P mixing protocols that guarantee termination in the presence of disruptive peers. We generalize the attack to demonstrate that no P2P mixing protocol simultaneously supports arbitrary input messages, provides anonymity, and terminates in the presence of disruptive peers. DiceMix resists this attack by requiring fresh input messages, e.g., cryptographic keys never used before.