August 2, 2021

Malware Protection

Dedicated Forum to help removing adware, malware, spyware, ransomware, trojans, viruses and more!

Multi-stage Proof-of-Works: Properties and Vulnerabilities, by Paolo D’Arco and Zahra Ebadi Ansaroudi and Francesco Mogavero

Since its appearance in 2008, Bitcoin has attracted considerable attention. So far, it has been the most successful cryptocurrency, with the highest market capitalization. Nevertheless, due to the method it uses to append new transactions and blocks to the blockchain, based on a Proof-of-Work, Bitcoin suffers from poor scalability, which strongly limits the number of transactions per second and, hence, its adoption as a global payment layer for everyday uses. In this paper we analyze some recent proposals to address this issue. In particular, we focus our attention on permissionless blockchain protocols, whose distributed consensus algorithm lies on a Proof-of-Work composed of >1 sequential hash-puzzles, instead of a single one. Such protocols are referred to as multi-stage Proof-of-Works. We consider a simplified scenario, commonly used in the blockchain literature, in which the number of miners, their hashing powers, and the difficulty values of the hash-puzzles are constant over time. Our contribution is threefold. Firstly, we derive a closed-form expression for the mining probability of a miner, that is, the probability that the miner completes the Proof-of-Work of the next block to be added to the blockchain before any other miner does. Secondly, we show that in multi-stage Proof-of-Works the mining probability might not be strictly related to the miner hashing power. This feature could be exploited by a smart miner, and could open up potential fairness and decentralization issues in mining. Finally, we focus on a more restricted scenario and present two attacks, which can be applied successfully against multi-stage Proof-of-Works: a Selfish Mining attack and a SelfishStage-Withholding attack. We show that both are effective, and we point out that Selfish Stage-Withholding can be seen as a complementary strategy to Selfish Mining, which in some cases increases the selfish miner profitability in the Selfish Mining attack.