This Week in Blockchain Research Issue #47

Issue #47

Issue #47

Paper of the Week:

Paper Title: Remote Side-Channel Attacks on Anonymous Transactions.


  1. For those who want transaction privacy on a public blockchain, systems like Zcash, Monero, and several others offer differing degrees of unlinkability against a party who records all the transactions in the network.

  2. Despite using advanced cryptographic primitives such as succinct zero-knowledge arguments (zkSNARKs) and ring signatures, some protocol-level attacks on transaction privacy have been found and corrected.

  3. This work looks at side-channel information that is leaked by the implementation of different components in the system to analyze privacy guarantees.

  4. It looks at timing side-channels and traffic patterns, as measured by a remote network attacker to show that, while the abstract zero-knowledge protocols used in these systems can hide information from an observer, these protocols are vulnerable to side-channel leakage. Any information leakage can invalidate the zero-knowledge property, and weaken or break the privacy guarantees of anonymous transactions.

  5. To do so, the authors take a systematic approach, looking at the life cycle of an anonymous transaction as it traverses the system. At every step, they look for side-channels and asses their impact on user privacy.

  6. In Zcash’s implementation, the time to generate a zero-knowledge proof depends on secret transaction data, and in particular on the amount of transacted funds. Hence, an adversary capable of measuring proof generation time could break transaction confidentiality, despite the proof system’s zero-knowledge property.

AuthorsFlorian Tramèr*, Dan Boneh*, and Kenneth G. Paterson†,

Affiliations: * Stanford University and † ETH Zurich.


1. Paper Title: Modeling the Impact of Network Connectivity on Consensus Security of Proof-of-Work Blockchain.

Summary: An analytical model to assess the impact of network connectivity on the consensus security of PoW blockchain under different adversary models.

Authors: Yang Xiao*, Ning Zhang†, Wenjing Lou*, and Y. Thomas Hou*,

Affiliations: * Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and † Washington University in St. Louis.

2. Paper Title: Double-Spend Counterattacks: Threat of Retaliation in Proof-of-Work Systems.

Summary: A formalized defense to double-spend attacks showing that when the victim can counterattack in the same way as the attacker, this leads to a variation on the classic game-theoretic War of Attrition model. 

AuthorsDaniel J. Moroz*, Daniel J. Aronoff†, Neha Narula†, and David C. Parkes†,

Affiliations: * Harvard University and † MIT.


No papers.


No papers.


No papers.


1. Paper Title: Pricing ASICs for Cryptocurrency Mining.

Summary: This work presents a method of ASIC valuation and shows that mining hardware can be imitated using bonds and the underlying cryptocurrencies.

Authors: Aviv Yaish* and Aviv Zohar*,

Affiliations* The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


1. Paper Title: The New ICO Intermediaries.

Summary: This article assesses the possibility of an ICO auditor, providing a framework for understanding potential audit functions.

AuthorsVanessa Villanueva Collao* and Verity Winship*

Affiliations: * University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

2. Paper Title: Blockchain Technology and Decentralized Governance: The Pitfalls of a Trustless Dream.

Summary: Despite its potential for disintermediation and decentralized cooperation, the social and political implications of blockchain technology are difficult to predict.

AuthorsPrimavera De Filippi*,

Affiliations: * Université Paris II - Panthéon-Assas.

3. Paper Title: The Political Economy of Blockchain Governance.

Summary: This work investigates the ways in which the decentralized governance structure and preferences of users influence which policies are implemented, considering network effects as well as user preferences for different policies.

AuthorsBarton E. Lee*, Daniel J. Moroz, and David C. Parkes,

Affiliations: * UNSW and † Harvard University.

4. Paper Title: Blockchain and Investment: An Austrian Approach.

Summary: Using a broad Austrian economic approach, this work examines how blockchain technology will affect the cost of trust, patterns of investment, and economic institutions.

AuthorsDarcy W.E. Allen*, Chris Berg*, Sinclair Davidson*, and Jason Potts*,

Affiliations: * RMIT University.

5. Paper Title: Blockchain, Fractional Ownership, and the Future of Creative Work.

Summary: This paper, for the first time, uses archivally sourced primary market records to model returns on art and introduces a novel fractional equity structure for artists. 

AuthorsAmy Whitaker* and Roman Kräussl,

Affiliations: * New York University and † Luxembourg School of Finance.

6. Paper Title: Assessing the Viability of Blockchain to Impact the Antiquities Trade.

Summary: This essay examines whether blockchain might offer a chance for the antiquities market to remedy its persistent problems.

AuthorsDerek Fincham*

Affiliations: * South Texas College of Law Houston.

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“Significant research in the blockchain space is constantly being achieved by academic researchers. Unfortunately, a lot of this research is overlooked due to the massive numbers of papers being generated and the way they are being promoted and published. We’ve put together a categorized list of academic papers that can guide our subscribers and keep them up to date.”

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