[bitcoin-dev] Defending against empty or near empty blocks from malicious miner takeover?

Hampus Sjöberg hampus.sjoberg at gmail.com
Fri Mar 24 17:37:25 UTC 2017


> For example would be something like this:
> If block = (empty OR  <%75 of mempool) THEN discard
> This threshold just an example

I don't think this is a good idea, mempool is different from node to node
and is not a part of the consensus.

Hampus

2017-03-24 18:29 GMT+01:00 Nick ODell via bitcoin-dev <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org>:

> Two concerns:
>
> 1) This makes block validity depend on things that aren't in the
> blockchain. If you and I have different minrelaytxfee's, we will have
> different mempool sizes. Your node will discard a block, but my node will
> think it is valid, and our nodes will not come to consensus.
>
> 2) This is trivially bypassed. A miner can take some coins they own
> already, and create a zero-value transaction that has a scriptPubKey of
> OP_1. (i.e. anyone-can-spend.) Then, they create another transaction
> spending the first transaction, with an empty scriptSig, and the same
> scriptPubKey. They do this over and over until they fill up the block.
>
> The last OP_1 output can be left for the next miner. Since the above
> algorithm is deterministic, a merkle tree containing every transaction
> except the coinbase can be precomputed. The 'malicious' miners do not need
> to store this fake block.
>
> On Fri, Mar 24, 2017 at 10:03 AM, CANNON via bitcoin-dev <
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
>
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>> When the original white paper was written the idea was that nodes
>> would be miners at same time. That the distribution of mining power
>> being mostly on par with the distribution of nodes if I understand
>> correctly. The problem we face now I fear, is the mining power
>> becoming centralized. Even if every bitcoin node invested a $1000
>> into mining power and mined at a loss, it still would not even
>> make a dent in hash distribution. Currently there are around 6000
>> known nodes. If each node invested $1000 for say 10 ths of hashing
>> power. At current hashrate of around 3,674,473,142 GH/s this would
>> only make up %16 of hash power. This is out of balance as while
>> nodes are distributed mining power is becoming very centralized
>> due to the creation of monopolization of ASICs. The problem we
>> are facing is a small group of a couple people whom control a
>> large amount and growing of hash power. At time of this writing
>> it has quickly risen to 39% and at current rate will soon become
>> 50% of hashing power that is controlled by a small group of a few
>> people. Their intentions are too hijack the bitcoin network to a
>> cryptocurrency that suits their dangerous agenda. Dangerous because
>> their plan would centralize power of consensus as I understand it,
>> to themselves the miners. Dangerous also because the code base of
>> the attempting subverters is buggy, insecure, and reckless from a
>> technological standpoint. Even though they only have very minute
>> amount of nodes compared to legitimate bitcion nodes, the danger
>> is that they are very quickly taking over in mining power. While
>> it is true that nodes will not accept invalid blocks that would be
>> attempted to be pushed by the conspirators, they are threatening to
>> attack the valid (or in their words, "minority chain") by dedicating
>> some mining power soley to attacking the valid chain by mining empty
>> blocks and orphaning the valid chain. So even though the majority
>> of nodes would be enforcing what blocks are valid and as a result
>> block the non-compliant longer chain, the conspiring miner can simply
>> (as they are currently threatening to) make the valid chain unuseable
>> by mining empty blocks.
>>
>> If a malicious miner with half or majority control passes invalid
>> blocks, the worst case scenario is a hardfork coin split in which
>> the non-compliant chain becomes an alt. However the problem is that
>> this malicious miner is very recently threatening to not just simply
>> fork, but to kill the valid chain to force economic activity to the
>> adversary controlled chain. If we can simply defend against attacks
>> to the valid chain, we can prevent the valid chain from dying.
>>
>> While empty or near empty blocks would generally be protected by
>> the incentive of miners to make money. The threat is there if the
>> malicious miner with majority control is willing to lose out on
>> these transaction fees and block reward if their intention is to
>> suppress it to force the majority onto their chain.
>>
>> Proposal for potential solution Update nodes to ignore empty blocks,
>> so this way mined empty blocks cannot be used to DOS attack the
>> blockchain. But what about defense from say, blocks that are
>> not empty but intentionally only have a couple transactions
>> in it? Possible to have nodes not only ignore empty blocks,
>> but also blocks that are abnormally small compared to number of
>> valid transactions in mempool?
>>
>> For example would be something like this:
>> If block = (empty OR  <%75 of mempool) THEN discard
>> This threshold just an example.
>>
>> What would be any potentials risks
>> and attacks resulting from both having such new rulesets and not
>> doing anything?
>>
>> Lets assume that the first problem of blocking empty or near empty
>> blocks has been mitigated with the above proposed solution. How
>> likely and possible would it be for a malicious miner with lots of
>> mining power to orphan the chain after so many blocks even with
>> non empty blocks? Is there a need to mitigate this?
>> If so is it possible?
>>
>> Time is running short I fear. There needs to be discussion on various
>> attacks and how they can be guarded against along with various
>> other contingency plans.
>>
>> - --
>> Cannon
>> PGP Fingerprint: 2BB5 15CD 66E7 4E28 45DC 6494 A5A2 2879 3F06 E832
>> Email: cannon at cannon-ciota.info
>>
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