Paper 2017/230

Smart Contracts Make Bitcoin Mining Pools Vulnerable

Yaron Velner, Jason Teutsch, and Loi Luu


Despite their incentive structure flaws, mining pools account for more than 95% of Bitcoin's computation power. This paper introduces an attack against mining pools in which a malicious party pays pool members to withhold their solutions from their pool operator. We show that an adversary with a tiny amount of computing power and capital can execute this attack. Smart contracts enforce the malicious party's payments, and therefore miners need neither trust the attacker's intentions nor his ability to pay. Assuming pool members are rational, an adversary with a single mining ASIC can, in theory, destroy all big mining pools without losing any money (and even make some profit).

Available format(s)
Publication info
Published elsewhere. 4th Workshop on Bitcoin and Blockchain Research
Contact author(s)
loiluu @ comp nus edu sg
2017-03-08: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Yaron Velner and Jason Teutsch and Loi Luu},
      title = {Smart Contracts Make Bitcoin Mining Pools Vulnerable},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2017/230},
      year = {2017},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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