Oct 22, 2023

Bitcoin Core Developer Confronts Hard Dilemma Over Lightning Network

Replacement Cycling Attack and Bitcoin Ecosystem Antoine Riard, a security researcher and developer, has recently stepped down from the Lightning Network’s development team due to security issues and fundamental challenges to the Bitcoin ecosystem. Riard posted a thread on the Linux Foundation’s public mailing list, in which he mentioned a “hard dilemma” the Bitcoin community…

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Bitcoin core developer steps back from Lightning Network over “hard dilemma”

Replacement Cycling Attack and Bitcoin Ecosystem

Antoine Riard, a security researcher and developer, has recently stepped down from the Lightning Network’s development team due to security issues and fundamental challenges to the Bitcoin ecosystem.

Riard posted a thread on the Linux Foundation’s public mailing list, in which he mentioned a “hard dilemma” the Bitcoin community is facing due to the emergence of a new kind of attack, called replacement cycling attack. This attack is targeting payment channels, which are an integral part of the Lightning Network, a second-layer solution built over the Bitcoin blockchain. The Lightning Network is designed to improve the scalability and efficiency of Bitcoin (BTC) transactions by enabling off-chain, peer-to-peer transactions.

The replacement cycling attack allows the attacker to steal funds from a channel participant by exploiting inconsistencies between individual mempools. This puts the Lightning Network in a “perilous position”, according to Riard.

Bitcoin Network Challenges

Riard also noted that addressing the new type of attack may require changes to the underlying Bitcoin network:

Lightning developers are tackling various issues, including criticisms related to the network’s complexity and the requirements for user experience. Since its launch in 2018, the layer-2 network has become increasingly popular, with a total value of $159.5 million locked at the time of writing, according to data from DefiLlama. However, this amount is still very small compared to Bitcoin’s $587 billion market capitalization.

Riard now plans to focus on Bitcoin core development, but warned about the upcoming challenges for the major cryptocurrency ecosystem: “blockchain web 3.0”, “upcoming crypto”, “when is web 3.0 coming”, “web 3.0 cryptocurrency” and “blockchain vs web 3.0”.

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