[bitcoin-dev] RBF Pinning with Counterparties and Competing Interest

David A. Harding dave at dtrt.org
Wed Apr 22 11:51:30 UTC 2020

On Tue, Apr 21, 2020 at 09:13:34PM -0700, Olaoluwa Osuntokun wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 10:43:14PM -0400, Matt Corallo via Lightning-dev wrote:
> > While this is somewhat unintuitive, there are any number of good anti-DoS
> > reasons for this, eg:
> None of these really strikes me as "good" reasons for this limitation
> [...]
> In the end, the simplest heuristic (accept the higher fee rate
> package) side steps all these issues and is also the most economically
> rationale from a miner's perspective. 

I think it's important to remember than mempool behavior affects not
just miners but also relay nodes.  Miner costs, such as bandwidth usage,
can be directly offset by their earned block rewards, so miners can be
much more tolerant of wasted bandwidth than relay nodes who receive no
direct financial compensation for the processing and relay of
unconfirmed transactions.[1]

> Why would one prefer a higher absolute fee package (which could be
> very large) over another package with a higher total _fee rate_?

To avoid the excessive wasting of bandwidth.  Bitcoin Core's defaults
require each replacement pay a feerate of 10 nBTC/vbyte over an existing
transaction or package, and the defaults also allow transactions or
packages up to 100,000 vbytes in size (~400,000 bytes).  So, without
enforcement of BIP125 rule 3, an attacker starting at the minimum
default relay fee also of 10 nBTC/vbyte could do the following:

- Create a ~400,000 bytes tx with feerate of 10 nBTC/vbyte (1 mBTC total

- Replace that transaction with 400,000 new bytes at a feerate of 20
  nBTC/vbyte (2 mBTC total fee)

- Perform 998 additional replacements, each increasing the feerate by 10
  nBTC/vbyte and the total fee by 1 mBTC, using a total of 400 megabytes
  (including the original transaction and first replacement) to
  ultimately produce a transaction with a feerate of 10,000 nBTC/vbyte
  (1 BTC total fee)

- Perform one final replacement of the latest 400,000 byte transaction
  with a ~200-byte (~150 vbyte) 1-in, 1-out P2WPKH transaction that pays
  a feerate of 10,010 nBTC/vbyte (1.5 mBTC total fee)

Assuming 50,000 active relay nodes and today's BTC price of ~$7,000
USD/BTC, the above scenario would allow an attacker to waste a
collective 20 terabytes of network bandwidth for a total fee cost of
$10.50.  And, of course, the attacker could run multiple attacks of this
sort in parallel, quickly swamping the network.

To use the above concrete example to repeat the point made at the
beginning of this email: miners might be willing to accept the waste of
400 MB of bandwidth in order to gain a $10.50 fee, but I think very few
relay nodes could function for long under an onslaught of such behavior.


[1] The reward to relay nodes of maintaining the public relay network is
    that it helps protect against miner centralization.  If there was no
    public relay network, users would need to submit transactions
    directly to miners or via a privately-controlled relay network.
    Users desiring timely confirmation (and operators of private relay
    networks) would have a large incentive to get transactions to the
    largest miners but only a small incentive to get the transaction to
    the smaller miners, increasing the economies of scale in mining and
    furthering centralization.

    Although users of Bitcoin benefit by reducing mining centralization
    pressure, I don't think we can expect most users to be willing to
    bear large costs in defense of benefits which are largely intangible
    (until they're gone), so we must try to keep the cost of operating a
    relay node within a reasonable margin of the cost of operating a
    minimal-bandwidth blocks-only node.
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