The report, conducted in partnership with research firm Trail of Bits, highlighted a number of “unintended centralities” that the authors believe have the potential to concentrate blockchain power in the hands of a few specific individuals or groups. These “unexpected centers” range from powerful new cryptocurrency miners and outdated computers that are vulnerable to attack, to the constellation of Internet service providers responsible for handling bitcoin traffic.
It’s worth noting that the report’s authors don’t cut through the holes/weaknesses of cryptography (which are actually described as “pretty strong” — at least until quantum computing becomes a great reality), but by ” Subvert the properties of blockchain implementation” to explore the problems of blockchain.
“We believe that the inherent risks of blockchain and cryptocurrencies have been poorly characterized and are often overlooked, or even ridiculed, by those trying to cash out during this decade’s gold rush,” the authors noted in the report. .
DARPA has reportedly partnered with Trail of Bits over the past year, asking the company to study the fundamental properties of blockchain and the potential security risks associated with it. The release of the report comes amid a historic loss of value in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that has come as a shock to many in the space.
According to the report, for at least the past five years, nearly two-thirds (60 percent) of bitcoin traffic has passed through just three ISPs. Additionally, about half of all Bitcoin traffic is reported to be via Tor. If so, Trail of Bits CEO Dan Guido said in an interview with NPR that these providers could potentially have the ability to “rewrite history” by restricting certain transactions and preventing bitcoin from changing hands entirely.
“Suppose someone took control of their country’s internet from the top down and started interfering with that network,” Guido said. “By slowing down or stopping legitimate blockchain traffic, an attacker could be the one that was written into the blockchain’s consensus at that moment.” ‘Majority’ voice”.
Then there’s the issue of outdated software. According to the report, about 21 percent of Bitcoin nodes are running an older version of the Bitcoin Core client that is vulnerable. Trail of Bits said that “public software changes” can actually modify the state of the blockchain, which in turn makes the developers of the blockchain software a unique point of trust in the system, vulnerable to attack.