[bitcoin-dev] We need to fix the block withholding attack

Multipool Admin admin at multipool.us
Mon Dec 28 19:35:34 UTC 2015

On Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 11:30 AM, Emin Gün Sirer <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:

> On Mon, Dec 28, 2015 at 2:12 PM, Peter Todd via bitcoin-dev <
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
>> Do you specifically mean selfish mining as defined in Emin Gün
>> Sirer/Ittay Eyal's paper? Keep in mind that attack is only a significant
>> issue in a scenario - one malicious miner with >30% hashing power -
>> where you're already very close to the margins anyway; the difference
>> between a 50% attack threshold and a 30% attack threshold isn't very
>> significant.
> This is not quite right: we know that selfish mining is a guaranteed win
> at 34%. We do not know when exactly it begins to pay off. The more
> consolidated and centralized the other mining pools, the less of a threat
> it is below 34%; the more decentralized, the more likely it is to pay off
> at lower thresholds.


> Far more concerning is network propagation effects between large and
>> small miners.
> On a related note, the Bitcoin-NG paper took a big step towards moving
> these kinds of concerns out of the realm of gut-feelings and wavy hands
> into science. In particular, it introduced metrics for fairness (i.e.
> differential
> rate in orphans experienced by small and large miners), hash power
> efficiency, as well as consensus delay.
>> For that class of issues, if you are in an environemnt
>> where selfish mining is possible - a fairly flat, easily DoS/sybil
>> attacked network topology - the profitability difference between small
>> and large miners even *without* attacks going on is a hugely worrying
>> problem.
> Indeed, there is a slight, quantifiable benefit to larger pools. Which is
> why
> we need to be diligent about not letting pools get too big.
>> Note though that Eligius is *not* the only pool to have had problems
> with block withholding, though AFAIK Eligius is the only one who has
>> gone on record so far. (as I said in my original post, I'm relaying
>> information given to me under condition of confidentiality)
> I can see why they don't want to go public with this: it means that they
> are less profitable than other pools.

This I disagree with -- if they know that they have been attacked, then
there is every reason to come forward with this information.

First of all, it offers an explanation for poor profits (this is better
than unexplained poor profits).

Second of all, if one pool can be attacked then any pool can be attacked --
this is not a reason not to mine on a particular pool.  If anything, it's a
reason to diversify hashrate among many pools.

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