Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2017/1067

Sharding PoW-based Blockchains via Proofs of Knowledge

Frederik Armknecht and Jens-Matthias Bohli and Ghassan O. Karame and Wenting Li

Abstract: Blockchains based on proofs of work (PoW) currently account for more than 90% of the total market capitalization of existing digital cryptocurrencies. The security of PoW-based blockchains requires that new transactions are verified, making a proper replication of the blockchain data in the system essential. While existing PoW mining protocols offer considerable incentives for workers to generate blocks, workers do not have any incentives to store the blockchain. This resulted in a sharp decrease in the number of full nodes that store the full blockchain, e.g., in Bitcoin, Litecoin, etc. However, the smaller is the number of replicas or nodes storing the replicas, the higher is the vulnerability of the system against compromises and DoS-attacks. In this paper, we address this problem and propose a novel solution, EWoK (Entangled proofs of WOrk and Knowledge). EWoK regulates in a decentralized-manner the minimum number of replicas that should be stored by tying replication to the only directly-incentivized process in PoW-blockchains—which is PoW itself. EWoK only incurs small modifications to existing PoW protocols, and is fully compliant with the specifications of existing mining hardware—which is likely to increase its adoption by the existing PoW ecosystem. EWoK plugs an efficient in-memory hash-based proof of knowledge and couples them with the standard PoW mechanism. We implemented EWoK and integrated it within commonly used mining protocols, such as GetBlockTemplate and Stratum mining; our results show that EWoK can be easily integrated within existing mining pool protocols and does not impair the mining efficiency.

Category / Keywords: applications / Blockchain security

Date: received 2 Nov 2017

Contact author: ghassan at karame org

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Version: 20171110:151257 (All versions of this report)

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