Also found on ResearchGate:


The Lightning Network (LN) has enjoyed rapid growth over recent years, and has become the most popular scaling solution for the Bitcoin blockchain. The security of the LN hinges on the ability of the nodes to close a channel by settling their balances, which requires confirming a transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain within a pre-agreed time period. This inherent timing restriction that the LN must satisfy, make it susceptible to attacks that seek to increase the congestion on the Bitcoin blockchain, thus preventing correct protocol execution. We study the susceptibility of the LN to \emph{mass exit} attacks, in the presence of a small coalition of adversarial nodes. This is a scenario where an adversary forces a large set of honest protocol participants to interact with the blockchain. We focus on two types of attacks: (i) The first is a \emph{zombie} attack, where a set of $k$ nodes become unresponsive with the goal to lock the funds of many channels for a period of time longer than what the LN protocol dictates. (ii) The second is a \emph{mass double-spend} attack, where a set of $k$ nodes attempt to steal funds by submitting many closing transactions that settle channels using expired protocol states; this causes many honest nodes to have to quickly respond by submitting invalidating transactions. We show via simulations that, under historically-plausible congestion conditions, with mild statistical assumptions on channel balances, both of the attacks can be performed by a very small coalition. To perform our simulations, we formulate the problem of finding a worst-case coalition of $k$ adversarial nodes as a graph cut problem. Our experimental findings are supported by a theoretical justification based on the scale-free topology of the LN.

Mass Exit Attacks on the Lightning Network

It's 2022. Every reddit post needs an abstract and be published like a paper 🤡🤡