Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2022/359

How much is the fork? Fast Probability and Profitability Calculation during Temporary Forks

Aljosha Judmayer and Nicholas Stifter and Philipp Schindler and Edgar Weippel

Abstract: Estimating the probability, as well as the profitability, of different attacks is of utmost importance when assessing the security and stability of prevalent cryptocurrencies. Previous modeling attempts of classic chain-racing attacks have different drawbacks: they either focus on theoretical scenarios such as infinite attack durations, do not account for already contributed blocks, assume honest victims which immediately stop extending their chain as soon as it falls behind, or rely on computationally heavy approaches which render them ill-suited when fast decisions are required. In this paper, we present a simple yet practical model to calculate the success probability of finite attacks, while considering already contributed blocks and victims that do not give up easily. Hereby, we introduce a more fine grained distinction between different actor types and the sides they take during an attack. The presented model simplifies assessing the profitability of forks in practical settings, while also enabling fast and more accurate estimations of the economic security grantees in certain scenarios. By applying and testing our model in the context of bribing attacks, we further emphasize that approaches where the attacker compensates already contributed attack-chain blocks are particularly cheap. Better and more realistic attack models also help to spot and explain certain events observed in the empirical analysis of cryptocurrencies, or provide valuable directions for future studies. For better reproducibility and to foster further research in this area, all source code, artifacts and calculations are made available on GitHub.

Category / Keywords: cryptographic protocols / Cryptocurrency, Forks, Attack Probability, Attack Profitability

Original Publication (with minor differences): 1ST INTERNATIONAL CRYPTOASSET ANALYTICS WORKSHOP (CAAW) CO-LOCATED WITH THE INTERNATIONAL WORLD WIDE WEB CONFERENCE 2022
DOI:
10.1145/3487553.3524627

Date: received 16 Mar 2022

Contact author: ajudmayer at sba-research org

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Note: Artefacts and code available here: https://github.com/kernoelpanic/howmuchisthefork_artefacts

Version: 20220318:094638 (All versions of this report)

Short URL: ia.cr/2022/359


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