Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2015/796

Stubborn Mining: Generalizing Selfish Mining and Combining with an Eclipse Attack

Kartik Nayak and Srijan Kumar and Andrew Miller and Elaine Shi

Abstract: Selfish mining, originally discovered by Eyal et al.~\cite{selfish_mining}, is a well-known attack where a selfish miner, under certain conditions, can gain a disproportionate share of reward by deviating from the honest behavior.

In this paper, we expand the mining strategy space to include novel ``stubborn'' strategies that, for a large range of parameters, earn the miner more revenue. Consequently, we show that the selfish mining attack is not (in general) optimal.

Further, we show how a miner can further amplify its gain by non-trivially composing mining attacks with network-level eclipse attacks. We show, surprisingly, that given the attacker's best strategy, in some cases victims of an eclipse attack can actually benefit from being eclipsed!

Category / Keywords: Bitcoin, cryptographic protocols, Selfish Mining

Original Publication (with minor differences): IEEE Euro SP 2016

Date: received 8 Aug 2015, last revised 5 Jan 2016

Contact author: kartik at cs umd edu

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Version: 20160106:013949 (All versions of this report)

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