On the security and scalability of Bitcoin's blockchain

Ghassan O. Karame

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

51 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The blockchain emerges as an innovative tool which proves to be useful in a number of application scenarios. A number of large industrial players, such as IBM, Microsoft, Intel, and NEC, are currently investing in exploiting the blockchain in order to enrich their portfolio of products. A number of researchers and practitioners speculate that the blockchain technology can change the way we see a number of online applications today. Although it is still early to tell for sure, it is expected that the blockchain will stimulate considerable changes to a large number of products and will positively impact the digital experience of many individuals around the globe. In this tutorial, we overview, detail, and analyze the security provisions of Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain-effectively capturing recently reported attacks and threats in the system. Our contributions go beyond the mere analysis of reported vulnerabilities of Bitcoin; namely, we describe and evaluate a number of countermeasures to deter threats on the system-some of which have already been incorporated in the system. Recall that Bitcoin has been forked multiple times in order to fine-tune the consensus (i.e., the block generation time and the hash function), and the network parameters (e.g., the size of blocks). As such, the results reported in this tutorial are not only restricted to Bitcoin, but equally apply to a number of "altcoins" which are basically clones/forks of the Bitcoin source code. Given the increasing number of alternative blockchain proposals, this tutorial extracts the basic security lessons learnt from the Bitcoin system with the aim to foster better designs and analysis of next-generation secure blockchain currencies and technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCCS 2016 - Proceedings of the 2016 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages1861-1862
Number of pages2
Volume24-28-October-2016
ISBN (Electronic)9781450341394
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Oct 2016
Event23rd ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2016 - Vienna, Austria
Duration: 24 Oct 201628 Oct 2016

Other

Other23rd ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2016
CountryAustria
CityVienna
Period24/10/1628/10/16

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  • Cite this

    Karame, G. O. (2016). On the security and scalability of Bitcoin's blockchain. In CCS 2016 - Proceedings of the 2016 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security (Vol. 24-28-October-2016, pp. 1861-1862). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/2976749.2976756