Hijacking Bitcoin: Routing Attacks on Cryptocurrencies

Hijacking Bitcoin: routing attacks on cryptocurrencies Apostolaki et al., IEEE Security and Privacy 2017

The Bitcoin network has more than 6,000 nodes, responsible for up to 300,000 daily transactions and 16 million bitcoins valued at roughly $17B.

Given the amount of money at stake, Bitcoin is an obvious target for attackers.

This paper introduces a new class of routing attacks on the network. These aren’t supposed to be feasible since Bitcoin is a vast peer-to-peer network using random flooding. However, look a little closer and you’ll find:

  1. The Internet infrastructure itself is vulnerable to routing manipulation (BGP hijacks), and
  2. Bitcoin is really quite centralised when viewed from a routing perspective.

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