Reparo: Publicly Verifiable Layer to Repair Blockchains

Sri Aravinda Krishnan Thyagarajan, Adithya Bhat, Bernardo Magri, Daniel Tschudi and Aniket Kate
Publication year: 2020

Although blockchains aim for immutability as their core feature, several instances have exposed the harms with perfect immutability. The permanence of illicit content inserted in Bitcoin poses a challenge to law enforcement agencies like Interpol, and millions of dollars are lost in buggy smart contracts in Ethereum. A line of research then spawned on Redactable blockchains with the aim of solving the problem of redacting illicit contents from both permissioned and permissionless blockchains. However, all the existing proposals follow the build-new-chain approach for redactions, and cannot be integrated with existing systems like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
We present Reparo, a generic protocol that acts as a publicly verifiable layer on top of any blockchain to perform repairs, ranging from fixing buggy contracts to removing illicit contents from the chain. Reparo facilitates additional functionalities for blockchains while maintaining the same provable security guarantee; thus, Reparo can be integrated with existing blockchains and start performing repairs on the pre-existent data. Any system user may propose a repair and a deliberation process ensues resulting in a decision that complies with the repair policy of the chain and is publicly verifiable.
Our Reparo layer can be easily tailored to different consensus requirements, does not require heavy cryptographic machinery and can, therefore, be efficiently instantiated in any permission-ed or -less setting. We demonstrate it by giving efficient instantiations of Reparo on top of Ethereum (with PoS and PoW), Bitcoin, and Cardano. Moreover, we evaluate Reparo with Ethereum mainnet and show that the cost of fixing several prominent smart contract bugs is almost negligible. For instance, the cost of repairing the prominent Parity Multisig wallet bug with Reparo is as low as 0.000000018% of the Ethers that can be retrieved after the fix.

Refresh When You Wake Up: Proactive Threshold Wallets with Offline Devices

Yashvanth Kondi, Bernardo Magri, Claudio Orlandi and Omer Shlomovits
Publication year: 2019

Abstract: Proactive security is the notion of defending a distributed system against an attacker who compromises different devices through its lifetime, but no more than a threshold number of them at any given time. The emergence of threshold wallets for more secure cryptocurrency custody warrants an efficient proactivization protocol tailored to this setting. While many proactivization protocols have been devised and studied in the literature, none of them have communication patterns ideal for threshold wallets. In particular a (t,n) threshold wallet is designed to have t parties jointly sign a transaction (of which only one may be honest) whereas even the best current proactivization protocols require at least an additional thonest parties to come online simultaneously to refresh the system.

In this work we formulate the notion of refresh with offline devices, where any tparties (no honest majority) may proactivize the system at any time and the remaining nt offline parties can non-interactively “catch up” at their leisure. However due to the inherent unfairness of dishonest majority MPC, many subtle issues arise in realizing this pattern. We discuss these challenges, yet give a highly efficient protocol to upgrade a number of standard (2,n) threshold signature schemes to proactive security with offline refresh. Our approach involves a threshold signature internal to the system itself, carefully interleaved with the larger threshold signing. We design our protocols so that they can augment existing implementations of threshold wallets for immediate use– we show that proactivization does not have to interfere with their native mode of operation.

Our proactivization technique is compatible with Schnorr, EdDSA, and even sophisticated ECDSA protocols, while requiring no extra assumptions. By implementation we show that proactivizing two different recent (2,n) ECDSA protocols incurs only 14% and 24% computational overhead respectively, less than 200 bytes, and no extra round of communication.

Category / Keywords: cryptographic protocols / threshold cryptography; key management; digital signatures; oblivious transfer

Afgjort: A Partially Synchronous Finality Layer for Blockchains

Bernardo Magri, Christian Matt, Jesper Buus Nielsen and Daniel Tschudi
Publication year: 2019

Abstract: Most existing blockchains either rely on a Nakamoto-style of consensus, where the chain can fork and produce rollbacks, or on a committee-based Byzantine fault tolerant (CBFT) consensus, where no rollbacks are possible. While the latter ones offer better consistency, the former can be more efficient, tolerate more corruptions, and offer better availability during bad network conditions. To achieve the best of both worlds, we initiate the formal study of finality layers. Such a finality layer can be combined with a Nakamoto-style blockchain and periodically declare blocks as final, preventing rollbacks beyond final blocks.

As conceptual contributions, we identify the following properties to be crucial for a finality layer: finalized blocks form a chain (chain-forming), all parties agree on the finalized blocks (agreement), the last finalized block does not fall too far behind the last block in the underlying blockchain (updated), and all finalized blocks at some point have been on the chain adopted by at least k honest parties (k-support).

As technical contributions, we propose two variants of a finality layer protocol. The first variant satisfies all of the aforementioned requirements (with k=1) when combined with an arbitrary blockchain that satisfies the usual common-prefix, chain-growth, and chain-quality properties. The second one needs an additional, mild assumption on the underlying blockchain, but is more efficient and satisfies k=n/3-support. We prove both of them secure in the setting with t<n/3 Byzantine parties and a partially synchronous network. We finally show that t<n/3 is optimal for partially synchronous finality layers.

Category / Keywords: cryptographic protocols / blockchain, finality, Byzantine agreement

Minting Mechanisms for Blockchain -- or -- Moving from Cryptoassets to Cryptocurrencies

Dominic Deuber, Nico Döttling, Bernardo Magri, Giulio Malavolta and Sri Aravinda Krishnan Thyagarajan
Publication year: 2018

Abstract: Permissionless blockchain systems, such as Bitcoin, rely on users using their computational power to solve a puzzle in order to achieve a consensus. To incentivise users in maintaining the system, newly minted coins are assigned to the user who solves this puzzle. A hardware race that has hence ensued among the users, has had a detrimental impact on the environment, with enormous energy consumption and increased global carbon footprint. On the other hand, proof of stake systems incentivise coin hoarding as players maximise their utility by holding their stakes. As a result, existing cryptocurrencies do not mimic the day-to-day usability of a fiat currency, but are rather regarded as cryptoassets or investment vectors.

In this work we initiate the study of minting mechanisms in cryptocurrencies as a primitive on its own right, and as a solution to prevent coin hoarding we propose a novel minting mechanism based on waiting-time first-price auctions. Our main technical tool is a protocol to run an auction over any blockchain. Moreover, our protocol is the first to securely implement an auction without requiring a semi-trusted party, i.e., where every miner in the network is a potential bidder. Our approach is generically applicable and we show that it is incentive-compatible with the underlying blockchain, i.e., the best strategy for a player is to behave honestly. Our proof-of-concept implementation shows that our system is efficient and scales to tens of thousands of bidders.

Category / Keywords: cryptographic protocols / Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, Auction