Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2019/411

Exploring the Monero Peer-to-Peer Network

Tong Cao and Jiangshan Yu and Jérémie Decouchant and Xiapu Luo and Paulo Verissimo

Abstract: As of September 2019, Monero is the most capitalized privacy- preserving cryptocurrency, and is ranked tenth among all cryptocurren- cies. Monero’s on-chain data privacy guarantees, i.e., how mixins are selected in each transaction, have been extensively studied. However, de- spite Monero’s prominence, the network of peers running Monero clients has not been analyzed. Such analysis is of prime importance, since po- tential vulnerabilities in the peer-to-peer network may lead to attacks on the blockchain’s safety (e.g., by isolating a set of nodes) and on users’ privacy (e.g., tracing transactions flow in the network). This paper provides the first step study on understanding Monero’s peer- to-peer (P2P) network. In particular, we deconstruct Monero’s P2P pro- tocol based on its source code, and develop a toolset to explore Monero’s network, which allows us to infer its topology, size, node distribution, and node connectivity. During our experiments, we collected 510 GB of raw data, from which we extracted 21,678 IP addresses of Monero nodes distributed in 970 autonomous systems. We show that Monero’s network is highly centralized — 13.2% of the nodes collectively maintain 82.86% of the network connections. We have identified approximately 2,758 ac- tive nodes per day, which is 68.7% higher than the number reported by the MoneroHash mining pool. We also identified all concurrent outgoing connections maintained by Monero nodes with very high probability (on average 97.98% for nodes with less than 250 outgoing connections, and 93.79% for nodes with more connections).

Category / Keywords: Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Peer-to-peer System

Original Publication (with minor differences): Financial Cryptography and Data Security 2020

Date: received 19 Apr 2019, last revised 17 Feb 2020

Contact author: tong cao at uni lu

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20200217:100938 (All versions of this report)

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