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Author Topic: We've come to the point where we must protect our mining pools  (Read 1906 times)
AHemlocksLie
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June 04, 2011, 08:38:24 AM
 #1

I hope this is in the right place. An attack certainly seems most likely to be of a political nature.

If Bitcoin ever becomes an adversary worthy of attack, we've developed one huge flaw recently. You can't override the power of the miners to disrupt the economy, but you can disrupt the mining pools. Unlike Bitcoin itself, the miners are based on centralized servers. If you wanted to disrupt the economy, you could simply take down all the mining pools, or at least the majority of them.

The difficulty would remain ungodly high until we managed to produce up to 2160 (and I do believe it would be coordinated to happen shortly after the difficulty recalculation). Block production would grind to a halt without our supercomputing networks. It would take much longer to produce blocks until we reorganized ourselves, and it would be extremely easy to take that opportunity to produce extra blocks to drain or damage the economy. I've seen a graph somewhere that I can't relocate showing a pie chart of the mining pools and their contribution to production. There were perhaps half a dozen slices in that pie, and it would be unbelievably easy to take them down, I bet.

We need a way to decentralize them, but that seems very difficult. We could have it done in a fashion similar to Bitcoin, but that's so successful because there's a reward for your work. You helped secure and build the block chain, so you get coins worth money. If you attempted it with a significantly smaller network, you could likely be easily overpowered. Anybody who could offer much would likely prefer to lend it to mining. I have no idea what we could do about the issue, but I do know we need to do something soon. Just dividing up the mining pools won't be enough.

As always, tips always appreciated. C;
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June 04, 2011, 09:35:10 AM
 #2

Miners have the correct incentives to find a solution(s). I'm not saying it isn't a problem, but it will be solved.

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malditonuke
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June 04, 2011, 10:05:45 AM
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Someone had the idea of making the mining software switch to another pool (possibly solo mode) while the primary pool is unavailable.  Wouldn't that be a major improvement?
Jaime Frontero
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June 04, 2011, 05:30:59 PM
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i think the pool owners have the best incentive of all to protect and decentralize their pools - their continued profits.
AHemlocksLie
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June 04, 2011, 10:23:42 PM
 #5

@FreeMoney: But will they be motivated to do so before it becomes an issue?

@malditonuke: Switching to another pool or solo mode would definitely be an improvement. They'd have to make sure this secondary pool is decentralized, though. And if that was the case, they may as well make it the primary pool

@Jaime Frontero: But will hey take a proactive or reactive stance on it?

As always, tips always appreciated. C;
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max in montreal
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June 04, 2011, 10:40:10 PM
 #6

I have a sugestion...Let the pool creator create 2 pools, a private and a public pool. Eventually you can earn the right to mine in the private pools, with others who have been mining for a while, but only after you have earned the trust by mining for a certain time/work at the public pool.
Findeton
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June 05, 2011, 02:15:34 AM
 #7

I have a sugestion...Let the pool creator create 2 pools, a private and a public pool. Eventually you can earn the right to mine in the private pools, with others who have been mining for a while, but only after you have earned the trust by mining for a certain time/work at the public pool.

Another suggestion: just split big pools into two pools.

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AHemlocksLie
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June 05, 2011, 05:45:23 AM
 #8

Neither of those really solves the problem. If there was a "secret" pool, anyone wanting to coordinate an attack would simply mine long enough to learn how to access the secret pool so it could be shut down. If you just split it into two pools, they'd just shut down twice as many pools. The problem is the centralization.

As always, tips always appreciated. C;
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hugolp
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June 05, 2011, 06:12:56 AM
 #9

You can have the public/private pool idea implemented with a fallback to mining on your own if both go down. That way even if the private pools are compromised, the miners will keep mining for themselve until the pools are back up again and the network wont be compromised.
malditonuke
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June 05, 2011, 06:36:24 AM
 #10

Neither of those really solves the problem. If there was a "secret" pool, anyone wanting to coordinate an attack would simply mine long enough to learn how to access the secret pool so it could be shut down. If you just split it into two pools, they'd just shut down twice as many pools. The problem is the centralization.

but there's a "super secret" pool to wait for.

and later you have to choose between the "illuminati" pool, the "templar" pool, and the "dragon" pool.

if you mine long enough in those pools, you get to join the "cthulhu" pool - which is when the fun really starts.
AHemlocksLie
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June 05, 2011, 09:30:42 AM
 #11

You can have the public/private pool idea implemented with a fallback to mining on your own if both go down. That way even if the private pools are compromised, the miners will keep mining for themselve until the pools are back up again and the network wont be compromised.

How exactly is mining done? Does a miner generate random hashes, or do they try them sequentially? If everyone starts from the beginning and sequentially counts to the answer, it's gonna take a while to churn out the blocks for recalculation. If they try things at random, I suppose it's only a matter of time until someone gets lucky.

As always, tips always appreciated. C;
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jvierine
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June 06, 2011, 05:17:55 PM
 #12

This has been discussed before. I think that the network should have a difficulty adjustment mechanism in case no new blocks are solved for -- say one day.

However, probably this is not that large of a risk, as there are many different pools, and setting one up is not that hard. Look at pirate bay. Their servers were seized, and how many days of down time did they have? I think the current pools are already seeing DDOS attacks quite regularly, and they still manage to keep going with minimal down time. One could also think of hiding pools with Tor.

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Ian Maxwell
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June 07, 2011, 10:25:13 PM
 #13

I agree that mining pools ought to protect themselves, but I disagree that it's a serious risk. If every pool were shut down, I'd just suck it up and mine solo. Most miners who understand the nature of expected value would do the same.

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June 08, 2011, 01:19:30 AM
 #14

Wont the network say HEY!, nobody is connected so I must lower the difficulty after "X Amount" of blocks, the difficulty would become incredibly low enough for solo mining to be profitable again.
So with that in mind
1] Attackers must have money to get enough botnets to attack the miningpools for 2 whole weeks(defiantly plausible)
2]After the two weeks are up difficulty goes down alot where solo mining is profitable
3]attackers stop attacking difficulty goes back up, everyone joins the mining pools, all solo miners made alot of bitscoins and the attackers helped them

I say... Attack Away! Anything that dosen't die was meant to survive!
lizthegrey
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June 10, 2011, 12:49:21 AM
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Already discussed over in Mining. http://forum.bitcoin.org/index.php?topic=9137.msg138150#msg138150
Bitfox
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June 20, 2011, 11:59:57 PM
 #16

Bitcoin's enemies know financial incentive fuels hashrate growth so they try to demobilize miners by preventing price increase proportionate to difficulty increase. They try to instill fear telling horror-stories of stolen wallets, or how some computationally and possibly mentally challenged senators will "move" against bitcoin (everyone here knows how their lame, useless "moves" against torrents and wikileaks ended). Maybe it's time to have all mining pool's URL in numerical form integrated in mining software so if domain names get seized it won't matter. Helping namecoin development would also be a leap forward, giving us decentralized p2p DNS. And implementing this providerless Internet solution http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Netsukuku would decisively limit censorship as there would be no service provider to pressure legally to hand over any user data nor any central nodes suitable for intercept.
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