[bitcoin-dev] Proposal for new "disabletx" p2p message

Suhas Daftuar sdaftuar at gmail.com
Wed Jan 6 16:35:11 UTC 2021


I'm proposing the addition of a new, optional p2p message to allow peers to
communicate that they do not want to send or receive (loose) transactions
for the lifetime of a connection.

The goal of this message is to help facilitate connections on the network
over which only block-related data (blocks/headers/compact blocks/etc) are
relayed, to create low-resource connections that help protect against
partition attacks on the network.  In particular, by adding a network
message that communicates that transactions will not be relayed for the
life of the connection, we ease the implementation of software that could
have increased inbound connection limits for such peers, which in turn will
make it easier to add additional persistent block-relay-only connections on
the network -- strengthening network security for little additional

Software has been deployed for over a year now which makes such
connections, using the BIP37/BIP60 "fRelay" field in the version message to
signal that transactions should not be sent initially.  However, BIP37
allows for transaction relay to be enabled later in the connection's
lifetime, complicating software that would try to distinguish inbound peers
that will never relay transactions from those that might.

This proposal would add a single new p2p message, "disabletx", which (if
used at all) must be sent between version and verack.  I propose that this
message is valid for peers advertising protocol version 70017 or higher.
Software is free to implement this BIP or ignore this message and remain
compatible with software that does implement it.

Full text of the proposed BIP is below.



  Layer: Peer Services
  Title: Disable transaction relay message
  Author: Suhas Daftuar <sdaftuar at chaincode.com>
  Comments-Summary: No comments yet.
  Status: Draft
  Type: Standards Track
  Created: 2020-09-03
  License: BSD-2-Clause


This BIP describes a change to the p2p protocol to allow a node to tell a peer
that a connection will not be used for transaction relay, to support
block-relay-only connections that are currently in use on the network.


For nearly the past year, software has been deployed[1] which initiates
connections on the Bitcoin network and sets the transaction relay field
(introduced by BIP 37 and also defined in BIP 60) to false, to prevent
transaction relay from occurring on the connection. Additionally, addr messages
received from the peer are ignored by this software.

The purpose of these connections is two-fold: by making additional
low-bandwidth connections on which blocks can propagate, the robustness of a
node to network partitioning attacks is strengthened.  Additionally, by not
relaying transactions and ignoring received addresses, the ability of an
adversary to learn the complete network graph (or a subgraph) is reduced[2],
which in turn increases the cost or difficulty to an attacker seeking to carry
out a network partitioning attack (when compared with having such knowledge).

The low-bandwidth / minimal-resource nature of these connections is currently
known only by the initiator of the connection; this is because the transaction
relay field in the version message is not a permanent setting for the lifetime
of the connection.  Consequently, a node receiving an inbound connection with
transaction relay disabled cannot distinguish between a peer that will never
enable transaction relay (as described in BIP 37) and one that will.  Moreover,
the node also cannot determine that the incoming connection will ignore relayed
addresses; with that knowledge a node would likely choose other peers to
receive announced addresses instead.

This proposal adds a new, optional message that a node can send a peer when
initiating a connection to that peer, to indicate that connection should not be
used for transaction-relay for the connection's lifetime. In addition, without
a current mechanism to negotiate whether addresses should be relayed on a
connection, this BIP suggests that address messages not be sent on links where
tx-relay has been disabled.


# A new disabletx message is added, which is defined as an empty
message where pchCommand == "disabletx".
# The protocol version of nodes implementing this BIP must be set to
70017 or higher.
# If a node sets the transaction relay field in the version message to
a peer to false, then the disabletx message MAY also be sent in
response to a version message from that peer if the peer's protocol
version is >= 70017. If sent, the disabletx message MUST be sent prior
to sending a verack.
# A node that has sent or received a disabletx message to/from a peer
MUST NOT send any of these messages to the peer:
## inv messages for transactions
## getdata messages for transactions
## getdata messages for merkleblock (BIP 37)
## filteradd/filterload/filterclear (BIP 37)
## mempool (BIP 35)
# It is RECOMMENDED that a node that has sent or received a disabletx
message to/from a peer not send any of these messages to the peer:
## addr/getaddr
## addrv2 (BIP 155)
# The behavior regarding sending or processing other message types is
not specified by this BIP.
# Nodes MAY decide to not remain connected to peers that send this
message (for example, if trying to find a peer that will relay


Nodes with protocol version >= 70017 that do not implement this BIP, and nodes
with protocol version < 70017, will continue to remain compatible with
implementing software: transactions would not be relayed to peers sending the
disabletx message (provided that BIP 37 or BIP 60 has been
implemented), and while
periodic address relay may still take place, software implementing this BIP
should not be disconnecting such peers solely for that reason.

Disabling address relay is suggested but not required by this BIP, to allow for
future protocol extensions that might specify more carefully how address relay
is to be negotiated. This BIP's recommendations for software to not relay
addresses is intended to be interpreted as guidance in the absence of any such
future protocol extension, to accommodate existing software behavior.

Note that all messages specified in BIP 152, including blocktxn and
getblocktxn, are permitted between peers that have sent/received a disabletx
message, subject to the feature negotiation of BIP 152.




# Bitcoin Core has [https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/pull/15759
implemented this functionality] since version, released in
November 2019.
# For example, see
https://www.cs.umd.edu/projects/coinscope/coinscope.pdf and


This BIP is licensed under the 2-clause BSD license.
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