Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2018/1134

Echoes of the Past: Recovering Blockchain Metrics From Merged Mining

Nicholas Stifter and Philipp Schindler and Aljosha Judmayer and Alexei Zamyatin and Andreas Kern and Edgar Weippl

Abstract: So far, the topic of merged mining has mainly been considered in a security context, covering issues such as mining power centralization or crosschain attack scenarios. In this work we show that key information for determining blockchain metrics such as the fork rate can be recovered through data extracted from merge mined cryptocurrencies. Specifically, we reconstruct a long-ranging view of forks and stale blocks in Bitcoin from its merge mined child chains, and compare our results to previous findings that were derived from live measurements. Thereby, we show that live monitoring alone is not sufficient to capture a large majority of these events, as we are able to identify a non-negligible portion of stale blocks that were previously unaccounted for. Their authenticity is ensured by cryptographic evidence regarding both, their position in the respective blockchain, as well as the Proof-of-Work difficulty.

Furthermore, by applying this new technique to Litecoin and its child cryptocur rencies, we are able to provide the first extensive view and lower bound on the stale block and fork rate in the Litecoin network. Finally, we outline that a recovery of other important metrics and blockchain characteristics through merged mining may also be possible.

Category / Keywords: applications / Bitcoin, Blockchain, Merged Mining

Original Publication (with minor differences): A version of this paper is to appear at Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2019

Date: received 21 Nov 2018, last revised 22 Nov 2018

Contact author: nstifter at sba-research org

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20181129:025825 (All versions of this report)

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