[bitcoin-dev] BIP proposal - Dandelion: Privacy Preserving Transaction Propagation

Bradley Denby bdenby at cmu.edu
Tue Jun 26 00:12:02 UTC 2018

On Mon, Jun 11, 2018 at 9:05 PM, Pieter Wuille <pieter.wuille at gmail.com>

> On Mon, Jun 11, 2018, 07:37 Bradley Denby via bitcoin-dev <
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
>> Thanks for the comments Pieter!
>> We can make descriptions for the intended node behaviors more clear in
>> the BIP.
>> Regarding interaction with BIPs 37 and 133, we have found that if
>> Dandelion routing decisions are based on self-reported features, malicious
>> nodes can often exploit that to launch serious deanonymization attacks. As
>> a result, we recommend not allowing fee filters from peers to influence the
>> choice of route. Your suggestion of automatically fluffing is a good
>> solution. Another (similar) option would be to apply fee filters in the
>> stempool. This would prevent the tx from propagating in stem phase, so
>> eventually an embargo timer on the stem will expire and the transaction
>> will fluff. This is slower than auto-fluffing, but requires (slightly) less
>> code.
> I understand the argument about not making routing decisions based on
> self-reported features, but I would expect it to only matter if done
> selectively? Allowing a node to opt out of Dandelion entirely should always
> be possible regardless - as they can always indicate not supporting it.

That's right, the idea is to choose Dandelion relays independently from
whether they support Dandelion. If the chosen nodes do not support
Dandelion, then the transactions are fluffed. Otherwise, the transactions
are relayed along a stem.

> The reason for my suggestion was that most full nodes on the network use
> feefilter, while only (from the perspective of Dandelion uninteresting)
> light nodes and blocksonly nodes generally use Bloom filters.
> Just dropping stem transactions that would otherwise be sent to a
> Dandelion peer which fails its filter, and relying on embargo seems fine.
> But perhaps this option is something to describe in the BIP ("Nodes MAY
> choose to either drop stem transactions or immediately start diffusion when
> a transaction would otherwise be sent to a Dandelion node whose filter is
> not satisfied for that transaction. A node SHOULD NOT make any routing
> decisions based on the transaction itself, and thus SHOULD NOT try to find
> an alternative Dandelion node to forward to" for example).

Thanks for the suggestion, we've updated the BIP with RFC 2119 language.

> Regarding mempool-dependent transactions, the reference implementation
>> adds any mempool transactions to the stempool but not vice-versa so that
>> the stempool becomes a superset of the mempool. In other words, information
>> is free to flow from the mempool to the stempool. Information does not flow
>> from the stempool to the mempool except when a transaction fluffs. As a
>> result, a node's stempool should accept and propagate Dandelion
>> transactions that depend on other unconfirmed normal mempool transactions.
>> The behavior you described is not intended; if you have any tests
>> demonstrating this behavior, would you mind sharing them?
> Oh, I see! I was just judging based on the spec code you published, but I
> must have missed this. Yes, that makes perfect sense. There may be some
> issues with this having a significant impact on stempool memory usage, but
> let's discuss this later on implementation.
> Orphans: stem orphans can occur when a node on the stem shuffles its route
>> between sending dependent transactions. One way to deal with this issue
>> would be to re-broadcast all previous Dandelion transactions that have not
>> been fluffed after Dandelion route shuffling. This could add a fair amount
>> of data and logic. This re-broadcast method also telegraphs the fact that a
>> Dandelion shuffle has taken place and can result in bursts of transactions
>> depending on traffic patterns. A second option (which we used in the
>> reference implementation) is to wait for the fluff phase to begin, at which
>> point the orphans will be resolved. This should happen within 15 seconds
>> for most transactions. Do you have any thoughts on which option would be
>> more palatable? Or if there are other options we have missed?
> Another option (just brainstorming, I may be missing something here), is
> to remember which peer each stempool transaction was forwarded to. When a
> dependent stem transaction arrives, it is always sent to (one of?) the
> peers its dependencies were sent to, even if a reshuffle happened in
> between.
> Thinking more about it, relying on embargo is probably fine - it'll just
> result in slightly lowered average stem length, and perhaps multiple
> simultaneous fluffs starting?

That's right, the stem length would be slightly shorter because of the time
spent waiting for the parent transaction, and you could get multiple
simultaneous fluffs. If this is acceptable, it is probably the simplest

> Regarding preferred connections, we have found that making Dandelion
>> routing decisions based on claims made by peer nodes can cause problems and
>> therefore would recommend against biasing the peer selection code.
> Oh, I don't mean routing decisions, but connections in general.

Ah ok. Even biasing a node's connections to prefer Dandelion nodes could be
problematic, especially in the early-deployment stage. For instance, a set
of malicious nodes could run Dandelion at the beginning; since there are
few honest nodes running Dandelion, the malicious nodes would draw a
disproportionate fraction of peer connections. This could have implications
for anonymity as well as eclipsing attacks. So we would suggest not
changing the peer connection strategy. In fact, we found that even when
there are very few nodes running Dandelion, this Dandelion-agnostic
connection strategy still provides some benefit over the current mechanism.

> On the implementation side:
> Let's discuss these later.
>> Based on the feedback we have received so far, we are planning to
>> prioritize writing up a clearer spec for node behavior in the BIP. Does
>> that seem reasonable, or are there other issues that are more pressing at
>> this point?
> I think that's the primary thing to focus on at this point, but perhaps
> others on this list feel different.

We've updated the BIP with RFC 2119 statements. Thanks for the feedback!

> Cheers,
> --
> Pieter
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