[bitcoin-dev] Note on Sequence Lock Upgrades Defect

Antoine Riard antoine.riard at gmail.com
Thu Sep 9 00:02:45 UTC 2021

Hi Jeremy,

Answering here from #22871 discussions.

I agree on the general principle to not blur mempool policies signaling in
committed transaction data. Beyond preserving upgradeability, another good
argument is to let L2 nodes update the mempool policies signaling their
pre-signed transactions non-interactively. If one of the transaction fields
is assigned mempool semantics, in case of tightening policy changes, you
will need to re-sign or bear the risks of having non-propagating
transactions which opens the door for exploitation by a malicious
counterparty. I think this point is kinda relevant if we have future
cross-layer coordinated safety fixes to deal with a la CVE-2021-31876.

Even further, a set of L2 counterparties would like to pick up divergent
tx-relay/mempool policies, having the signaling fields as part of the
signature force them to come to consensus.

I think we can take the opportunity of p2p packages to introduce a new
field to signal policy. Of course, a malicious tx-relay peer could modify
its content to jam your transaction's propagation but in that case it is
easier to just drop it.

One issue with taking back the `nSequence` field for consensus-semantic
sounds is depriving the application-layer from a discrete, zero-cost
payload (e.g the LN obfuscated commitment number watermark). This might be
controversial as we'll increase the price of such applications if they're
still willingly to relay application specific data through the p2p network
(e.g force them to use a costly OP_RETURN output or payer/payee
interactions to setup a pay-to-contract)

W.r.t flag day activation to smooth policy deployment, I think that's
something we might rely on in the future though we could distinguish few
types of policy deployments :
1) loosening changes (e.g full-rbf/dust threshold removal), a transaction
which was relaying under
the former policy should relay under the new one
2) tightening changes (e.g #22871), a transaction which was relaying under
the former policy
might not relay under the new one
3) new feature introduced (e.g packages), a transaction is offered a new
mode of relay

I think 1) doesn't need that level of ecosystem coordination as
applications/second-layers should always benefit from such changes. Maybe
with the exception of full-rbf, where we have historical 0-conf softwares,
with (broken) security assumptions made on the opt-out RBF mechanism. Same
with 3), better to have new features deployed gradually, a flag day
activation day in this case won't mean that all higher stacks will jump to
use package-relay ?

Where a flag day might make sense would be for 2) ? It would create a
higher level of commitment by the base layer software instead of a pure
communication on the ML/GH, which might not be concretized in the announced
release due to slow review process/feature freeze/rebase conflicts...
Reversing the process and asking for Bitcoin applications/higher layers to
update first might get us in the trap of never doing the change, as someone
might have a small use-case in the corner relying on a given policy

That said, w.r.t to the proposed policy change in #22871, I think it's
better to deploy full-rbf first, then give a time buffer to higher
applications to free up the `nSequence` field and finally start to
discourage the usage. Otherwise, by introducing new discouragement waivers,
e.g not rejecting the usage of the top 8 bits, I think we're moving away
from the policy design principle we're trying to establish (separation of
mempool policies signaling from consensus data)

Le ven. 3 sept. 2021 à 23:32, Jeremy via bitcoin-dev <
bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> a écrit :

> Hi Bitcoin Devs,
> I recently noticed a flaw in the Sequence lock implementation with respect
> to upgradability. It might be the case that this is protected against by
> some transaction level policy (didn't see any in policy.cpp, but if not,
> I've put up a blogpost explaining the defect and patching it
> https://rubin.io/bitcoin/2021/09/03/upgradable-nops-flaw/
> I've proposed patching it here
> https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin/pull/22871, it is proper to widely
> survey the community before patching to ensure no one is depending on the
> current semantics in any live application lest this tightening of
> standardness rules engender a confiscatory effect.
> Best,
> Jeremy
> --
> @JeremyRubin <https://twitter.com/JeremyRubin>
> <https://twitter.com/JeremyRubin>
> _______________________________________________
> bitcoin-dev mailing list
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org
> https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/bitcoin-dev
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