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Bitcoin’s Lightning Network Flaws Hinder BTC Scaling

  • BTC mempool reached over 113,000 unconfirmed transactions, highest since 2017.
  • data on Nov 1 shows that the next BTC block fee is $11.12 and the current median fee is $6.35.
  • Researchers revealed flaws in BTC’s Lightning Network.

Lightning Network (LN) is specifically designed for BTC mempool (backlog of transactions) and the high fees needed in sending transactions. However, LN seems to be struggling to ease the problems.

As of the time of writing, the BTC mempool shows over 60,000 unconfirmed transactions. Prior to this, the number had reached 113,000, the highest since 2017. November 1 data presented that the next BTC block fee is set to be at $11.12. Also, the current median fee is $6.35.

Bitcoin’s Lightning Network aims to speed up low-value bitcoin transactions by moving them off the bitcoin blockchain. In line with this, people wanted to shift to LN’s solution. Yet, this has been unsuccessful due to numerous flaws disclosed on LN this year.

Lightning Network’s Loopholes

Joost Jager, an independent and Lightning network engineer, notes that Lightning is great, but can’t say it’s battle-tested.

He pointed out that,

If script kids would be interested, they would take down those shiny new 5 BTC wumbo channels with negligible cost and no effort at all.

Crypto and blockchain author Antoine Riard also discovered another exploit known as Pinning Attack. Riard has a background in contract protocol research. Therefore, he noted that currently deployed LN peers aren’t secure against certain pinning attack scenarios.

Riard and Gleb Naumenko also published a paper on another Lightning Network vulnerability called the time-dilation attack. In the paper, they disclosed that stealing the total channel capacity is possible. If a node eclipsed for as little as two hours, this can be done.

Researchers Jona Harris and Aviv Zohar also published a study called: “Flood & Loot: A Systemic Attack On The Lightning Network.”

The authors noted that:

The resulting high volume of transactions in the blockchain will not allow for the proper settlement of all debts, and attackers may get away with stealing some funds.

The LN vulnerabilities and exploits could expose financial information on bitcoin transactions. When, in fact, these should be anonymous. Currently, Lightning Labs, Blockstream, and ACINQ are the three major teams working on the development of the Lightning Network.

Takunda Matsuro

A devoted content specialist who is passionate about the blockchain and crypto industry. When she isn’t writing news, she’s probably watching documentaries, reading books by Nobel prize authors, or singing.

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