This Week in Blockchain Research Issue #48

Issue #48

Issue #48

Paper of the Week:

Paper Title: Toward Active and Passive Confidentiality Attacks On Cryptocurrency Off-Chain Networks.


  1. Current blockchain technology faces a scalab- ility challenge, supporting merely tens of transactions per second, compared to custodian payment systems which easily support thousands of transactions per second.

  2. Off-chain networks, a.k.a. payment channel networks (PCNs) or second-layer blockchain networks, have emerged as a promising solution to mitigate the blockchain scalability problem: by allowing participants to make payments directly through a network of peer-to-peer payment channels, the overhead of global consensus protocols and committing transactions on-chain can be avoided.

  3. This paper explores the question whether the inherent need for nodes to discover routes in general, and the gossip and probing mechanisms in particular, can be exploited to infer sensitive information about the off-chain network and its transactions.

  4. The paper identifies two novel threats for the confidentiality of off-chain net- works. In particular, it considers the Lightning Network as a case study and presents two attacks, an active one and a passive one.

  5. The active one is a probing attack in which the adversary wants to determine the maximum amount which can be transferred over a target channel it is directly or indirectly connected to, by active probing.

  6. The passive one is a timing attack in which the adversary discovers how close the destination of a routed payment actually is, by acting as a man-in-the middle and listening for / analyzing certain well-defined messages. 

  7. This work analyzes these attacks, identifies limitations and also proposes remediations for scenarios in which they are able to produce accurate results.

AuthorsUtz Nisslmueller*, Klaus-Tycho Foerster*, Stefan Schmid*, Christian Decker†,

Affiliations: * University of Vienna and † Blockstream.


1. Paper Title: CryptoWills: How to Bequeath Cryptoassets.

Summary: This work introduces and formally defines the problem of cryptographic wills.

Authors: Istvan Andra ́s Seres*†, Omer Shlomovits†, and Pratyush Ranjan Tiwari‡,

Affiliations: * Eotvos Lorand University, † KZen Research, and ‡ Ashoka University.

2. Paper Title: Renegotiation and recursion in Bitcoin contracts.

Summary: This work investigates linguistic primitives to renegotiate BitML contracts, and their implementation on standard Bitcoin.

AuthorsMassimo Bartoletti*, Maurizio Murgia†, and Roberto Zunino†,

Affiliations: * University of Cagliari and † University of Trento.


No papers.


1. Paper Title: Testimonium: A Cost-Efficient Blockchain Relay.

Summary: A relay scheme that is fully decentralized while being cost-efficient even for blockchains with expensive validation protocols.

AuthorsPhilipp Frauenthaler*, Marten Sigwart*, Christof Spanring†, Stefan Schulte*,

Affiliations: * TU Wien and † Pantos GmbH.

2. Paper Title: Atomic Crosschain Transactions.

Summary: Atomic Crosschain Transactions allow application devel- opers to create complex cross-blockchain applications in a straightforward manner.

AuthorsPeter Robinson*†, Raghavendra Ramesh*, John Brainard*, Sandra Johnson*‡

Affiliations: * PegaSys, † University of Queensland, and ‡ Queensland University of Technology.


1. Paper Title: Many-out-of-Many" Proofs with Applications to Anonymous Zether.

Summary: A construction of Anonymous Zether which improves upon the efficiency attained by existing efforts.

AuthorsBenjamin E. Diamond*,

Affiliations: * J.P. Morgan.


1. Paper Title: Full Analysis of Nakamoto Consensus in Bounded-Delay Networks.

Summary: The proof that Nakamoto’s protocol achieves, under suitable conditions, consistency and liveness in bounded-delay networks with adaptive (as opposed to predetermined) dynamic participation assuming, as before, that the majority of the computational power favors the honest parties.

Authors: Juan Garay* and Aggelos Kiayias†‡.

Affiliations* Texas A&M University, † University of Edinburgh, and ‡ IOHK.

2. Paper Title: Distributed Momentum for Byzantine-resilient Learning.

Summary: Is there a way to guarantee “quality gradient” at the non Byzantine workers? Addressing this question is crucial to put Byzantine-resilient gradient descent to work.

AuthorsEl-Mahdi El-Mhamdi*, Rachid Guerraoui*, and Sebastien Rouault*,

Affiliations: * EPFL.


1. Paper Title: Digital Transformation in the Hedge Fund and Private Equity Industry.

Summary: This work argues that private equity and hedge funds rely on similar features of the partnership form but diverge in some important respects due to the demands made by investors. 

AuthorsOmololu Bajulaiye*, Mark Fenwick†, Ivona Skultetyova*, and Erik P.M. Vermeulen*,

Affiliations: * Tilburg University and † Kyushu University.

2. Paper Title: Technology v. Technocracy: Fintech as a Regulatory Challenge.

Summary: This article examines fintech as a systemic force disrupting the currently dominant technocratic paradigm of financial regulation.

AuthorsSaule T. Omarova*

Affiliations: * Cornell University.

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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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