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Author Topic: Is Bitcoin that really decentralized, as you believe?  (Read 9072 times)
throughput
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July 23, 2010, 03:13:06 PM
 #21

The very fact that we discuss the rules disproves you.  If satoshi was the "central athoritative provider", what point would there be discussing?  We simply ask satoshi to implement it, because he's most familiar with the code and because he's willing to do so.  We're the ones with the power to change the system, as WE'RE the ones who choose which client to run.  Case in point, Olipro wrote his own code to change the system that many of us are now using, converting it to 64 bit calculations.  Is he, also, in control of "all the power"?
So, you agree, that the group of people, or more accurately, the set of accounts, that have the permission to
modify the code, plays the role of the central authority in Bitcoin, and still may affect the rules of operation?
I think, that fact is too obvious to discuss further.
But the whitepaper says it is impossible. Please correct me if I'm wrong and misread the documentation.

Stop with your doomsaying and incoherent nonsense, and put forth an actual argument that ISN'T filled with vague generalities and disconnected sentences.
Are you angry with me? I have nothing against you personally. I have nothing against you at all.
Sorry for making you so angry, that wasn't my goal at all.
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July 23, 2010, 03:16:18 PM
 #22

Not so much angry, just irritated by your speech pattern.  You waltz in, claim that "we're not really decentralized" without understanding how it works.

EVERYONE has permission to modify the code, and EVERYONE has the CHOICE to choose what they run.    There is no "central authority".  There just happens to be one person right now who provides bitcoin source.  If that were interrupted, either the system would die, or someone else would take up that mantle.  That fact isn't "too obvious to discuss further", you're simply not understanding the idea behind Open Source Software.

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July 23, 2010, 03:38:45 PM
 #23

We have people here who review the code for differences each time an update is released.  I have begun doing this as of the last release.

There are two types of changes that such an impersonator could make:

1) Non-breaking change.  A change can only be non-breaking if it cooperates with existing clients.  It can only do this if it follows the mathematics of the system, because anything which changes the mathematics will be rejected by the other clients.  There is absolutely no threat from a breaking change, unless someone cracks the factoring problem and can solve the hashing problem instantaneously, in which case we have bigger issues to worry about.

2) Breaking change.  This changes the protocol or mathematics of the way the client operates.  Thus, other clients will refuse to work with newer clients.  This raises huge red flags.  This is the only kind of change which could potentially allow said power to compromise the system.  If someone releases a breaking change, I'm sure as hell going to read the code in order to find out what changed.  I'm sure there are many others who would do so as well.  Through open communication, word would spread of this, and releases from said power would no longer be trusted.

Open source software prevents such attacks. Bitcoin is still a small project, yet we already have watchmen guarding the code, the operation of public binaries and the block chain.

Thank you for your answers.

Then my questions is:
1. What about attack against all or majority of developers, not just one person?
2. What about attack, that involves only one person, but is based on the "plausible deniability"?
What if a modification to the code is hard to identify as something evil in the first place?
And after it is identified, it is hard to ever confirm someone's responsibility to the fact.
Yes, things like that sometimes happen in the real world. And even in the Open Source part of it.

And what if it is a modification to the rules with some untransparent consequences, not visible to your code guards?
Not saying anything in particular, just vague generalities.
What if it will be accepted by the devs? Aren't they the central authority then, that can be silently hijacked?
I am not talking about the interruption of the development team!
What about the well-planned impersonation of the development team of the Bitcoin software.
There is only one team. Well, I suppose, that would be difficult to catch just EVERY developer, but if we talk
about difficulty, then we should compare that to other difficulties, like cracking the SHA function, for example.
What method is less impossible, how do you think?
Quantumplation
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July 23, 2010, 03:56:59 PM
 #24


Thank you for your answers.

Then my questions is:
1. What about attack against all or majority of developers, not just one person?
If someone launches a simultaneous attack on an entire community, there are larger concerns than bitcoin being compromised.  This would require government cooperation between at LEAST 5 countries (maybe more), operating with complete precision, outside the bounds of the law, and violating personal liberties.  Like I said, in that case, bitcoin would be the least of our issues.
2. What about attack, that involves only one person, but is based on the "plausible deniability"?
What does it matter if that person meant to or not?  If the code is bad, we don't accept it, regardless of if it was malicious or not.
What if a modification to the code is hard to identify as something evil in the first place?
Given that we have a complete history of the code, we can compare VERY specifically the areas that changed.  We know what it did before, and that specifically highlights the areas that changed.  It's unimaginably hard to hide something malicious in a couple lines of code under close scrutiny.
And after it is identified, it is hard to ever confirm someone's responsibility to the fact.
Yes, things like that sometimes happen in the real world. And even in the Open Source part of it.
Again, what does it matter who's responsible?  Bad code, don't use it.  If it happens repeatedly from the same person, just stop using their code base.
And what if it is a modification to the rules with some untransparent consequences, not visible to your code guards?
Again, see above.
Not saying anything in particular, just vague generalities.
That's my whole problem with your posts.  It's nothing but vague generalities, backed up by nothing but your own whim in creating fantastical and inaccurate situations in your head.
What if it will be accepted by the devs? Aren't they the central authority then, that can be silently hijacked?
Not everyone who reviews the code is a developer who supports the system.  Some people want to specifically see it fail, and are looking for any excuse to point out a flaw.  Again, see above about the simultaneous hijacking.
I am not talking about the interruption of the development team!
What about the well-planned impersonation of the development team of the Bitcoin software.
There is only one team. Well, I suppose, that would be difficult to catch just EVERY developer, but if we talk
about difficulty, then we should compare that to other difficulties, like cracking the SHA function, for example.
What method is less impossible, how do you think?
There isn't one dev "team".  I'm not on a "team" with satoshi any more than I'm on a "team" with the microsoft developers.  Just because we're both programmers doesn't mean there's "one team".

If you're going to follow that logic, isn't there only one "team" of people who use the software?  Doesn't that make everyone who uses it but ISN'T a coder a central authority?

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July 23, 2010, 04:38:38 PM
 #25

If someone launches a simultaneous attack on an entire community, there are larger concerns than bitcoin being compromised.  This would require government cooperation between at LEAST 5 countries (maybe more), operating with complete precision, outside the bounds of the law, and violating personal liberties.  Like I said, in that case, bitcoin would be the least of our issues.
Thanks, you got my point. International corporations may afford such business, given the interest.
Bitcoin should have a sustained development community or freezed codebase. An attack in the latter case is less feasible, IMHO.
An attack against developers community is still possible, again strongly IMHO. This is not a weakness of the algorithms.
This is because payment system depends on it's software codebase. And it maybe cheaper to attack the codebase or the rule-base,
than fighting against the running algorithms. What do you think?

Disrupting the community is easier, than disrupting the argorithm complexity.
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July 23, 2010, 04:40:24 PM
 #26

... No, I don't get your point.  I'm done arguing with you, you seem to be incapable of processing information.

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July 23, 2010, 04:43:56 PM
 #27

If someone launches a simultaneous attack on an entire community, there are larger concerns than bitcoin being compromised.  This would require government cooperation between at LEAST 5 countries (maybe more), operating with complete precision, outside the bounds of the law, and violating personal liberties.  Like I said, in that case, bitcoin would be the least of our issues.
Thanks, you got my point. International corporations may afford such business, given the interest.
Bitcoin should have a sustained development community or freezed codebase. An attack in the latter case is less feasible, IMHO.
An attack against developers community is still possible, again strongly IMHO. This is not a weakness of the algorithms.
This is because payment system depends on it's software codebase. And it maybe cheaper to attack the codebase or the rule-base,
than fighting against the running algorithms. What do you think?

Disrupting the community is easier, than disrupting the argorithm complexity.
Bitcoin takes a wide variety of attacks into account. Sure, a rich corporation could attack members of the community, but there's no incentive. While the user base is small, it's vulnerable, but there is no incentive for it to be attacked. A corporation is not going to spend millions to have people killed if those people are not a threat. As the size of the community grows, the incentive to attack increases, but the difficulty to attack increases faster than the incentive.

Edited by adding a sentence.

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July 23, 2010, 04:45:23 PM
 #28

...

You have a lot more patience than I do... >_>

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July 23, 2010, 04:47:02 PM
 #29

This is because payment system depends on it's software codebase. And it maybe cheaper to attack the codebase or the rule-base,
than fighting against the running algorithms. What do you think?

Disrupting the community is easier, than disrupting the argorithm complexity.


As the community grow, the number of developers may grow as well. Thus, it become increasingly more difficult to hide clever malicious code.

Quote from: wikipedia
Linus' Law, according to Eric S. Raymond, states that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." More formally: "Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix will be obvious to someone."

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July 23, 2010, 04:48:07 PM
 #30

...

You have a lot more patience than I do... >_>
But not as much as others... ^_^

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July 23, 2010, 06:05:44 PM
 #31

I really think what he is trying to point out is that the scarce commodity backing bitcoin's accounting was created by code fiat. Anyone who changes the fiat changes everything.

Obviously, everone here already knows that.

Also obviously, clarity isn't his first language.
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July 24, 2010, 02:53:56 AM
 #32

I want the drugs this guy is on.I will even pay him in bitcoins  Cheesy


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July 24, 2010, 03:01:11 AM
 #33

I want the drugs this guy is on.I will even pay him in bitcoins  Cheesy




Aren't you paying attention? He doesn't want your damn centralized money, he was those decentralized paper ones.

Play Bitcoin Poker at sealswithclubs.eu. We're active and open to everyone.
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July 26, 2010, 02:01:22 PM
 #34

There is absolutely no threat from a breaking change, unless someone cracks the factoring problem and can solve the hashing problem instantaneously, in which case we have bigger issues to worry about.
1) Solving the hashing problem (finding a message with SHA256 hash lower than given threshold) has nothing to do with factoring. It's RSA encryption that breaks if the factoring problem is solved. Bitcoin does use RSA and will break if the factoring problem is solved, but in completely other way.

We definitely should have economical and mathematical FAQs, because mathematical or economical nonsense appears now and then on the forum and scares new users.

2)  So you message should read "unless someone can solve the hashing problem instantaneously, in which case we have bigger issues to worry about"

These "bigger issues" were already discussed somewhere at the forum, and nothing catastrophic would happen if the cryptographic functions Bitcoin depends on are broken. This again should be a FAQ.

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July 26, 2010, 10:12:11 PM
 #35

there are several fallacies in your beliefs:

1) because you can't actually comprehend C++, you assume nobody else can.

2) you assume that if satoshi suddenly goes crazy with the code, everyone's just going to let him do it.

3) if we were attacked, you assume people couldn't agree to do a rollback or some other sort of response.

Bitcoins accepted to 18em7jEuKe1W74ChAZMFShUuqmwudWmpgu Smiley
Anonymous
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July 28, 2010, 03:01:04 AM
 #36

We have better hackers than the government. Cheesy

Seriously,if you live your life in constant fear you will forget to live your life.
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July 28, 2010, 08:04:40 AM
 #37

Thanks, dear community.

You proved a tendency to discuss my person, instead of my words, well...

Here, satoshi discuss some measures some group of people will take in case of SHA-256 gets broken.
http://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=191.0
Quote
If SHA-256 became completely broken, I think we could come to some agreement about what the honest block chain was before the trouble started, lock that in and continue from there with a new hash function.

He talks there as if he was an administrator of the whole payment system. And he is. And I, the user, am not. Do you see that difference, that I see?

For my external point of view, I see no practical difference between the Paypal's board of directors as a group, that
is a central authority for the Paypal payment system, and the group of people, that forms a developers community for
a BitCoin as a software.

Ofcourse, you do see the difference! If you are part of that developers community, you will argue about the complete difference between you and *EVIL*
Paypal (or whatever else), since for you Paypal is an external thing and you (I believe) do not participate in it, but you maybe
not perceive yourself as a part of group which is a central authority for a Bitcoin as a payment system.

But you know what, your personal perceptions is very important, but is not an objective thing. It does not define
my reality, it does not define Bitcoin users' reality. For us, not developers of BitCoin, you are the board of directors of BitCoin
payment system, along with BitCoin as a software project.

Bitcoin do have a central authority, no matter how do that authority perceive themself.
I do recognize, that their influence is somehow limited, compared to Paypal's directors, they cannot do just arbitrary things to all accounts.
But whitepapers will only be honest with readers if they mention what kind of the influence is possible from the developers community.
What is possible right now, while there is only single working implementation.
What threats are actual if we suppose, that majority of users only download the binary on upgrades.
And what really changes when there are active several distribution channels for binaries.
What will be possible later, when current implementation will dominate among majority of users.
What will be possible, when current client's userbase will not form a majority of the network, and there will be no client dominance at all.
What will be possible, if some other client will form a majority.
Etc.

I feel, like that are all open questions, without answers yet, since the community is so distracted by the qualities of my person and the drugs what I take.
I hope, that is because of my person (and my drugs), not because of general ignorance of difficult problems and, ofcourse, not because of any intentions to hide that problems from the public.

PS: I haven't found where is the public key and the signatures for binary packages you are distributing via sourceforge.net. I hope they are really buried somewhere deep in the site, but still exists.
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July 28, 2010, 08:40:18 AM
 #38

You proved a tendency to discuss my person, instead of my words, well...

Your person makes no difference to me. Only your words live here.

And your words either point out what is obvious to even the most casual observer.
1) Everyone is not a developer.
2) The code makes the rules.
3) Therefore, developers of the code make the rules.

No shit Sherlock! That really does go *without* saying.

The rules can change! That is not a revelation. What will be considered a valid transaction in the future is unknown. However, what was a valid transaction in the past cannot change. That is the important thing. And the future rules cannot change if the consensus of users doesn't want them too. If it tries, people just convert their value out of bitcoins using the existing system, and move on to another currency. There is no way to steal the existing bitcoin value by anyone, developer or not.

If there is, you certainly haven't pointed anything out.

In the case where you do say something that is not obvious to everyone, it is generally either misguided or nonsensical.


PS: I haven't found where is the public key and the signatures for binary packages you are distributing via sourceforge.net. I hope they are really buried somewhere deep in the site, but still exists.

I mean really, WTF!
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July 28, 2010, 01:01:22 PM
 #39

Your person makes no difference to me. Only your words live here.

And your words either point out what is obvious to even the most casual observer.
1) Everyone is not a developer.
2) The code makes the rules.
3) Therefore, developers of the code make the rules.

No shit Sherlock! That really does go *without* saying.
Oh God! They understand me!
Yes!
But that is not just an obvious property, but is also something, that have a security implications.
And I thought, that it should get duscussed from a security point of view.
At least, that doing so will somehow contribute to security and robustness of a payment system.

Quote
The rules can change! That is not a revelation. What will be considered a valid transaction in the future is unknown. However, what was a valid transaction in the past cannot change. That is the important thing. And the future rules cannot change if the consensus of users doesn't want them too. If it tries, people just convert their value out of bitcoins using the existing system, and move on to another currency.
1) The rules are buried deeply into the binary.
2) The authority, that guarantees the tamperproof transactions is the rules that runs on the majority of the nodes.
3) The majority of users will download the binaries, not compile them.
4) Right now, there is only one distribution channel for binaries, the sourceforge.
5) No, binaries are not cryptographically signed.
...
PROFIT?

You [only] need a keylogger on the computer, that uploads binaries to sourceforge, to fully control the rules.
Does anybody run NOW intentionally dishonest nodes to inject dishonest transactions to check that they are really and continuously rejected by the majority?
If not, nobody will notice, that rules became weaker in the subverted binaries.
So, the only person, who knows that secret will remain the attacker, who subverted them.
He will only need to wait, until his version dominates the network.
He will steal all your transactions with another version of a client,
since binaries, that are running by the majority, were specifically set up to allow dishonest transactions,
but not to make them.

Perhaps, that could become disclosed and fixed later, but that will hit the reputation of the system very much.
Perhaps not.
Why don't you tell what you think of that?

Quote
There is no way to steal the existing bitcoin value by anyone, developer or not.
1. Who said that?
2. Does others agree on that?
3. Can that be proven?
4. Is that proven?

Why not steal bitcoins with transactions, that are dishonestly injected into the blocks, honestly solved by the subverted binaries?
Who will prevent that from going, if the majority is specifically subverted to accept such transactions?
Well, that still may become disclosed. Or not? If it will, how and after which amount of time/bitcoins?
Why not send every transaction to a different Bitcoin address,
just ask it every time from a web-site, or just from DNS?
Or just to a randomly generated address, to destroy the value?

After all, why only I do the analysis?
Do you care?
Or, is that already discussed and known to everyone and obvious for all, except me?
Then, please, tell me. It is not obvious. Really not!

Quote
If there is, you certainly haven't pointed anything out.

In the case where you do say something that is not obvious to everyone, it is generally either misguided or nonsensical.
Sorry, that is me.

I'm wondering, why does anyone not discuss obvious security features of the system?
I am trying to invent attacks (sometimes stupid attacks), but nobody says, that everything
is already protected, because somebody worried before me.
They just say it is because of my drugs.
And my drugs aren't really appreciated here. Cry
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July 28, 2010, 01:07:38 PM
 #40

There is absolutely no threat from a breaking change, unless someone cracks the factoring problem and can solve the hashing problem instantaneously, in which case we have bigger issues to worry about.
1) Solving the hashing problem (finding a message with SHA256 hash lower than given threshold) has nothing to do with factoring. It's RSA encryption that breaks if the factoring problem is solved. Bitcoin does use RSA and will break if the factoring problem is solved, but in completely other way.

We definitely should have economical and mathematical FAQs, because mathematical or economical nonsense appears now and then on the forum and scares new users.

2)  So you message should read "unless someone can solve the hashing problem instantaneously, in which case we have bigger issues to worry about"

These "bigger issues" were already discussed somewhere at the forum, and nothing catastrophic would happen if the cryptographic functions Bitcoin depends on are broken. This again should be a FAQ.

My apologies, I meant "unless someone cracks the factoring problem OR can solve the hashing problem instantaneously".  I can see where my comment might have been misleading.

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