Improving the Security and Efficiency of Blockchain-based Cryptocurrencies

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Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Perustieteiden korkeakoulu | Master's thesis
Date
2017-08-28
Department
Major/Subject
Security and Mobile Computing
Mcode
T3011
Degree programme
Master's Degree Programme in Security and Mobile Computing (NordSecMob)
Language
en
Pages
77
Series
Abstract
In recent years, the desire for financial privacy and anonymity spurred the growth of electronic cash and cryptocurrencies. The introduction of decentralized cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, accelerated their adoption in society. Since digital information is easier to reproduce, digital currencies are vulnerable to be spent more than once – this is called a double-spending attack. In order to prevent double-spending, Bitcoin records transactions in a tamper-resilient shared ledger called the blockchain. However, the time required to generate new blocks in the blockchain causes a delay in the transaction confirmation. This delay, typically around one hour in Bitcoin, is impractical for real world trade and limits the wide-spread use of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. In this thesis, we propose a solution to prevent double-spending attacks and thus enable fast transaction confirmations using the security guarantees of Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs). We achieve this by enforcing sign-once semantics that prevent the payer from reusing designated signing keys to sign more than one transaction. We also provide a way for the payee to verify whether a specific signing key is subject to sign-once semantics. The payee, however still receives the funds later, once the transaction is verified similarly to existing credit card payments. In this way, our solution reduces transaction confirmation times of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies and is also compatible with existing deployments since it does not require any modifications to the base protocol, peers, or miners. We designed and implemented a proof-of-concept of our solution using Intel SGX technology and integrated it with Copay, a popular Bitcoin wallet from BitPay. This thesis also presents the security evaluation of our system along with other possible extensions and enhancements.
Description
Supervisor
N, Asokan
Thesis advisor
Paverd, Andrew
Keywords
cryptocurrency, bitcoin, blockchain, double-spending, trusted hardware, SGX
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