Timing Analysis for Inferring the Topology of the Bitcoin Peer-to-Peer Network

Neudecker, Till and Andelfinger, Philipp and Hartenstein, Hannes (2016) Timing Analysis for Inferring the Topology of the Bitcoin Peer-to-Peer Network. In: 2016 International IEEE Conference on Advanced and Trusted Computing (ATC), 18-21 Jul 2016, Toulouse, France. Proceedings, published by IEEE, pp. 358-367.

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Official URL: http://doi.org/10.1109/UIC-ATC-ScalCom-CBDCom-IoP-...


Flooding Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks form the basis of services such as the electronic currency system Bitcoin. The decentralized architecture enables robustness against failure. However, knowledge of the network's topology can allow adversaries to attack specific peers in order to, e.g., isolate certain peers or even partition the network. Knowledge of the topology might be gained by observing the flooding process, which is inherently possible in such networks,, performing a timing analysis on the observations. In this paper we present a timing analysis method that targets flooding P2P networks, show its theoretical, practical feasibility. A validation in the real-world Bitcoin network proves the possibility of inferring network links of actively participating peers with substantial precision, recall (both ~ 40%), potentially enabling attacks on the network. Additionally, we analyze the countermeasure of trickling, quantify the tradeoff between the effectiveness of the countermeasure, the expected performance penalty. The analysis shows that inappropriate parametrization can actually facilitate inference attacks.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: Received Best Paper Award, Electronic ISBN:978-1-5090-2771-2