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Author Topic: Why I am not concerned about the ethics of miner botnets.  (Read 4433 times)
chickenado
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November 27, 2011, 09:48:07 PM
 #1

I just had a look at Litecoin project, and I was perplexed that its susceptibility to botnet mining was listed as a "disadvantage".

I see botnet operators as petty criminals who have managed to find a large number of victims.

1. Most of their victims don't even realize that they are victims.
2. The damage per victim is small (a few extra dollars a month in electricity bills)
3. A clever botnet operator doesn't get greedy and causes as little disruption as possible to his victims.  The "market" weeds out the ones who get too aggressive and only the stealthy ones survive long term.  The guys who start stealing CC numbers in addition to mining will inevitably attract attention from their victims.  The "nice" botnet operators, on the other hand, can continue mining for months without being discovered.
4. It's not in the interest of a botnet operator to do a 51% attack because that will make his booty worthless.  Unless he gets paid by someone whose aim it is to destroy bitcoin. But that someone could just do the 51% attack himself without going through a middleman.

Sure, botnets are a "disadvantage" for the victims, but not for the cryptocoin itself.

Should it bother me that a part of the bitcoin network is being secured by criminals, and that when I buy freshly minted coins, some of them come from criminals? Perhaps.

Here is the thing though:

Almost everybody I know buys their fossil fuels from criminals, without even giving it a second thought.  And we are talking about real criminals here, people who commit mass murder and torture, not some nihilistic geek living in his parents' basement who causes a barely noticeable inconvenience for a few million people.

This is why I don't understand all this moral outrage about miner botnets. First things first, surely?
"With e-currency based on cryptographic proof, without the need to trust a third party middleman, money can be secure and transactions effortless." -- Satoshi
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iamzill
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November 28, 2011, 05:28:14 AM
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It's a simple PR issue. Those criminals selling fossils fuels has very good PR points with the western world and do regular photos ops with the western leaders. Botnet operators and bitcoin miners on the other hand...
boonies4u
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November 28, 2011, 06:01:40 AM
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It's a simple PR issue. Those criminals selling fossils fuels has very good PR points with the western world and do regular photos ops with the western leaders. Botnet operators and bitcoin miners on the other hand...

Attention all mining botnet operators! Do Not Get Caught! That is all.
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November 28, 2011, 09:06:11 AM
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It's a simple PR issue. Those criminals selling fossils fuels has very good PR points with the western world and do regular photos ops with the western leaders. Botnet operators and bitcoin miners on the other hand...

The criminals selling fossil fuels also have a higher probability to be executed by their "friends" than botnet operators... Doesn't matter how good the PR and the photo ops were...

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November 28, 2011, 10:51:06 AM
 #5

You make a compelling argument there, op.

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November 28, 2011, 06:06:05 PM
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4. It's not in the interest of a botnet operator to do a 51% attack because that will make his booty worthless.  Unless he gets paid by someone whose aim it is to destroy bitcoin. But that someone could just do the 51% attack himself without going through a middleman.

Booty worthless?
You don't know how to do a proper 51% attack...

For traditional bitcoin type chains:

1. Aquire at least 51% of network power.
2. Aquire coins (preferrably through mining but could be bought).
3. Start private chain fork.
4. Sell your coins on the current public fork of chain.
5. Get your $$$ out of exchange.
6. Publish your private fork of the chain.
7. If any exchange remains open, goto step 3.

You make your money at least once, exchanges quickly go bankrupt, and you have the evil mastermind satisfaction of destroying a chain.
Once that chain is dead, you move onto the next one.
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November 28, 2011, 06:14:57 PM
 #7

4. It's not in the interest of a botnet operator to do a 51% attack because that will make his booty worthless.  Unless he gets paid by someone whose aim it is to destroy bitcoin. But that someone could just do the 51% attack himself without going through a middleman.

Booty worthless?
You don't know how to do a proper 51% attack...

For traditional bitcoin type chains:

1. Aquire at least 51% of network power.
2. Aquire coins (preferrably through mining but could be bought).
3. Start private chain fork.
4. Sell your coins on the current public fork of chain.
5. Get your $$$ out of exchange.
6. Publish your private fork of the chain.
7. If any exchange remains open, goto step 3.

You make your money at least once, exchanges quickly go bankrupt, and you have the evil mastermind satisfaction of destroying a chain.
Once that chain is dead, you move onto the next one.

So botnet operators who are ultra paranoid (and for good reason) will take stolen funds and accept payment is very traceable fiat currency?  Hell even if FBI was interested in Bitcoin "crimes" they certainly would be interested in information linking a physical identity to botnet operators.

I doubt it. 

Blockchains ensure that economically the best thing to do is to operate within the "rules".  Now if you are talking about a non-economic attack (where the intent of the 51% isn't to profit but instead to pay money to destroy the block chain) that is where the real danger of 51% lies.

The issue w/ CPU based chains is the fact that limiting the defenders to the same hardware as attackers only ensure it is cheaper to destroy the chain.  I don't see any blockchain that intentionally limits hashing to less efficient hardware surviving.
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November 28, 2011, 07:20:37 PM
 #8

The issue w/ CPU based chains is the fact that limiting the defenders to the same hardware as attackers only ensure it is cheaper to destroy the chain.  I don't see any blockchain that intentionally limits hashing to less efficient hardware surviving.
That's actually a very good point.
chickenado
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November 29, 2011, 08:49:35 AM
 #9

The issue w/ CPU based chains is the fact that limiting the defenders to the same hardware as attackers only ensure it is cheaper to destroy the chain.  I don't see any blockchain that intentionally limits hashing to less efficient hardware surviving.

You could say the same about GPU based chains.  There is no technical reason why GPU botnets aren't feasible.  With GPU mining, most ordinary users are excluded from defending the chain.

CPU isn't less efficient than GPU, it's just less efficient at one particular algorithm.

The safest would be a proof-of-work that requires both GPU and CPU.
boonies4u
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November 29, 2011, 08:57:55 AM
 #10

The safest would be a proof-of-work that requires both GPU and CPU.

Wouldn't that also make it the hardest to mine? Or are you saying that it would be safer, because it's more likely that people with complete rigs/gaming PCs would mine, rather than a botnet running off of someone's GPU or CPU?
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November 29, 2011, 09:35:20 AM
 #11

The safest would be a proof-of-work that requires both GPU and CPU.
I hardly think that computers with a decent GPU don't have a decent CPU, so this wouldn't improve anything. Only exception is these GPU-Supercomputers, but they won't be included in botnets.

chickenado
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November 29, 2011, 09:50:16 AM
 #12

The safest would be a proof-of-work that requires both GPU and CPU.
I hardly think that computers with a decent GPU don't have a decent CPU, so this wouldn't improve anything. Only exception is these GPU-Supercomputers, but they won't be included in botnets.

Depends how it's done.  Instead of perfoming SHA256 and Scrypt in series, you could use just SHA256 for even blocks and just Scrypt for odd blocks.

This would ensure that ordinary users still get a chance at defending the chain, while making it hard for CPU botnets.
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November 29, 2011, 12:17:52 PM
 #13

The safest would be a proof-of-work that requires both GPU and CPU.
I hardly think that computers with a decent GPU don't have a decent CPU, so this wouldn't improve anything. Only exception is these GPU-Supercomputers, but they won't be included in botnets.

Depends how it's done.  Instead of perfoming SHA256 and Scrypt in series, you could use just SHA256 for even blocks and just Scrypt for odd blocks.

This would ensure that ordinary users still get a chance at defending the chain, while making it hard for CPU botnets.

When enough money is involved, hardware developers will build GPU cards that handle other encryption schemes. Let's just stick with SHA256 until we need something more powerful.

Any significantly advanced cryptocurrency is indistinguishable from Ponzi Tulips.
DeathAndTaxes
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November 29, 2011, 01:31:48 PM
 #14

The issue w/ CPU based chains is the fact that limiting the defenders to the same hardware as attackers only ensure it is cheaper to destroy the chain.  I don't see any blockchain that intentionally limits hashing to less efficient hardware surviving.

You could say the same about GPU based chains.  There is no technical reason why GPU botnets aren't feasible.  With GPU mining, most ordinary users are excluded from defending the chain.

CPU isn't less efficient than GPU, it's just less efficient at one particular algorithm.

The safest would be a proof-of-work that requires both GPU and CPU.

There is no such thing as a GPU chain.  Bitcoin began as unoptimized CPU mining code.

Basic CPU miner -> OpenCL CPU miner -> GPU miner -> FPGA miner -> sASIC miner -> Cell ASIC miner -> Full Custom ASIC miner

There was no intent to limit it artificially to any platform.  GPU is just the natural progression.  It is more efficient than CPU.  An botnet with on average medium and low end CPU would require 100 or more nodes to just compete w/ average GPU "defender" (looking at btc-poolwatch is looks like average miner has 500MH/s of hashing power). 

FPGA are more efficient than GPU.  In time we will see FPGA completely replace GPU mining.  Then any attacker will be at an even greater disadvantage.   Someday if Bitcoin grows large enough we will see the investment in sASIC all the way up to Full Custom ASIC.  Those will be 20x or more efficient than an FPGA and hundreds of times more efficient than a CPU. 

Each "rung" up the technology tree gives defenders more and more specalized equipment that a botnet is unlikely to ever have putting less emphasis on sheer numbers and more on technological advantage.

There is no such thing as a GPU chain.  Bitcoin will work on everything from CPU all the way to Full Custom ASIC miners.  GPU are just predominant right now because it was the low hanging fruit.  In time that too will pass.
chickenado
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December 01, 2011, 11:37:02 AM
 #15

There is no such thing as a GPU chain.  Bitcoin began as unoptimized CPU mining code.

Quite right. But there is such a thing as memory-intensive proof of work and non-memory intensive proof of work.

A chain that alternates between both will eventually lead to the development of two types of specialized hardware, manufactured by different industries.

That seems like a more robust currency to me.
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