Secure High-Rate Transaction Processing in Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a disruptive new crypto-currency based on a decentralized open-source protocol which has been gradually gaining momentum. Perhaps the most important question that will affect Bitcoin’s success, is whether or not it will be able to scale to support the high volume of transactions required from a global currency system. We investigate the implications of having a higher transaction throughput on Bitcoin’s security against double-spend attacks. We show that at high throughput, substantially weaker attackers are able to reverse payments they have made, even well after they were considered accepted by recipients. We address this security concern through the GHOST rule, a modification to the way Bitcoin nodes construct and re-organize the block chain, Bitcoin’s core distributed data-structure. GHOST has been adopted and a variant of it has been implemented as part of the Ethereum project, a second generation distributed applications platform.

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