The Code for an Anonymous Lightning Network is Now Live 1

The lightning network is due for a privacy boost.

That’s according to Dr. Ayo Akinyele, a computer scientist who has focused his efforts on building a zcash implementation of anonymous off-chain payment architecture called BOLT. And today that work was published on Github.

First conceived by zcash founders Matthew Green and Ian Miers in 2016, the code is inspired by the bitcoin scaling solution, lightning network, and seeks to unlock high levels of transaction throughput while adding payment confidentiality.

“The lightning network has solved the initial issue with scalability, and now that gives us the opportunity to deal with the privacy problem. That is the strength of the BOLT design,” Akinyele told CoinDesk.

Using blind signatures and zero-knowledge proofs, BOLT obscures transactions, balances and sender and receiver identities. Plus, because it’s built to function along with privacy-oriented cryptocurrency zcash, users can open a channel using shielded transactions, thereby anonymizing the initial connection to the network.

“BOLT is one approach that could lead to very promising results for privacy, and I’m excited to be on the front line of pursuing that,” Akinyele said.

Today’s release allows for the “bidirectional” use case — or payment channels that can move funds back and forth between two participants.

In order to be activated on the cryptocurrency, new code would need to be added to the zcash repository, in what is called a “soft fork” — or a type of change that doesn’t require all versions of the software to update.

Going forward, the team behind BOLT is hoping to follow a similar development plan to the lightning network itself — deploying it as an open testnet to allow users to battletest the software.

“It would be awesome to deploy this, similar to what lightning had done, and allow people to test on the testnet and then gradually get toward the mainnet,” Akinyele said.

And while the current release has been optimized for zcash, in the future, Akinyele plans to develop it as a privacy extension for the lightning network itself, telling CoinDesk:

“The next step is to retrofit these properties to bitcoin and litecoin on the lightning network, probably as a shielded transaction option, similar to what zcash offers now.”

First steps and beyond

Speaking to CoinDesk, Akinyele said today’s release marks a minimal sketch of BOLT’s fundamental architecture.

“This initial implementation is based on CL signatures and very standard techniques for blind signatures and zero-knowledge proofs, and so it is a very basic construction that has been well known to cryptographers for a couple of decades now,” Akinyele said.

While that’s very technical, simply it uses digital signature technology that’s been around for some time and so is proven efficient. Yet, there’s still work to expand some of the architecture’s capabilities.

“This first implementation is just a concrete implementation of one version of that architecture, though in the future BOLT could look very different,” Akinyele said.

Still, it’s technically viable to implement and requires minimal changes to zcash in order to get into the testing phase.

And crucially, having specified the initial architecture, it’s easier to further iterate the protocol, as well as building support for other cryptocurrencies — the next significant step in the BOLT development roadmap.

As Akinyele told CoinDesk:

“Now we have one approach implemented we can decide what is the next approach that we want to try and which cryptocurrency can it benefit.”

Cryptocurrencies that are similar in structure to zcash, such as bitcoin and litecoin, are low hanging fruit for such implementations.

Added privacy

Such additions would be applied to the lightning network itself, as an option for users looking to anonymize their payment channel usage.

“It’s a privacy add-on,” Akinyele said.

And that’s because, while lightning itself deploys some privacy-enhancing features, the robustness of that privacy is a point of contention for academics. For example, if lightning settles in what is termed a “hub-and-spoke” structure, there’s a risk that nodes with high processing throughput can have an overview of transactions as they run through the network.

While lightning also employs a technique called onion-routing, in which users can route payments through many different channels to hide the contents of a payment, Akinyele warned that the practice might not catch on.

“They do have some features for encryption, you can route your payment through multiple hops, which is great, but when you talk about bidirectional payments and some of the more basic use-cases that most people will gravitate towards, there is no privacy,” he explained.

As such, there’s a risk users will opt for convenience – such as users linking their transaction histories by using the same bitcoin address repeatedly – rather than the more complex, yet privacy-preserving options.

“We have seen how this movie plays out in bitcoin,” Akinyele said.

Learning from leaks

Still, having identified these potential leaks was useful for the development of the BOLT architecture.

Specifically, Akinyele said the design owes a lot to the popularity of the lightning network payment channels being used today, which are beginning to reveal what the network could look like.

“Having lightning exist and being used has been very helpful in figuring out how to do privacy correctly,” he told CoinDesk.

“We’re seeing patterns emerge – centralization of some hubs are forming where a lot of people are using the same paths to route payments. All of these patterns are emerging, so it’s giving us a real insight into okay, where is the real privacy problem, and what would be the best technique to deal with that,” Akinyele continued.

And not only that, but going forward, Akinyele feels that BOLT could provide a private link between zcash, bitcoin and litecoin — a layer-two interoperability that he hopes could dismantle some of the tribalism that occurs in cryptocurrency today.

He concluded:

“It provides an option to figure out how we can get away from ‘this currency does this, this currency does that,’ and just start thinking more longer term and big picture with how we want to use these currencies in the real world.”

Lightning image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

About the author

E-Crypto News was developed to assist all cryptocurrency investors in developing profitable cryptocurrency portfolios through the provision of timely and much-needed information. Investments in cryptocurrency require a level of detail, sensitivity, and accuracy that isn’t required in any other market and as such, we’ve developed our databases to help fill in information gaps.

Related Posts

E-Crypto News Executive Interviews



bitcoin
Bitcoin (BTC) $ 61,297.00
ethereum
Ethereum (ETH) $ 3,830.15
binance-coin
Binance Coin (BNB) $ 471.32
cardano
Cardano (ADA) $ 2.22
tether
Tether (USDT) $ 0.998932
xrp
XRP (XRP) $ 1.14
solana
Solana (SOL) $ 158.73
polkadot
Polkadot (DOT) $ 43.76
usd-coin
USD Coin (USDC) $ 0.997051
dogecoin
Dogecoin (DOGE) $ 0.237837
USD
EUR
GBP
bitcoinBitcoin (BTC)
$ 61,297.00
ethereumEthereum (ETH)
$ 3,830.15
tetherTether (USDT)
$ 0.998932
bitcoin-cashBitcoin Cash (BCH)
$ 628.19
litecoinLitecoin (LTC)
$ 190.02
bitcoinBitcoin (BTC)
52.792,96
ethereumEthereum (ETH)
3.298,77
tetherTether (USDT)
0,860345
bitcoin-cashBitcoin Cash (BCH)
541,04
litecoinLitecoin (LTC)
163,66
bitcoinBitcoin (BTC)
44,747.12
ethereumEthereum (ETH)
2,796.03
tetherTether (USDT)
0.729225
bitcoin-cashBitcoin Cash (BCH)
458.58
litecoinLitecoin (LTC)
138.72

Automated trading with HaasBot Crypto Trading Bots

Crypto Scams

Crypto Scams
Crypto Scams Still Persistent In 2021, SEC Warns About Red Flags To Watch
September 9, 2021
Poly Network
Here’s How Hackers Stole Over $600 million in the Poly Network Attack
August 12, 2021
The World’s Most Infamous Crypto Hacks and Scams
July 31, 2021
Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Cryptocurrency Exchanges and the Plague of Scams and Bans
June 29, 2021
What Role Do Cryptocurrencies Play In The Era Of Ransomware Attacks?
June 9, 2021

Blockchain/Cryptocurrency Questions and Answers

ICo Presale
The Science Behind ICO Presales…
October 14, 2021
Beginner’s Guide to Investing in Cryptocurrency
August 9, 2021
Short-Sell Cryptocurrency
How to Short-Sell Cryptocurrency: A Brief Overview
July 17, 2021
Klaytn
What Is Klaytn (KLAY) And How Does It Work?
July 16, 2021
Cryptocurrencies
Our Crypto Roundup Interview Asks- Do Cryptocurrencies Have a Future?
July 15, 2021


CryptoCurrencyUSDChange 1hChange 24hChange 7d
Bitcoin61,286 0.76 % 6.95 % 13.47 %
Ethereum3,834.7 0.86 % 2.13 % 7.76 %
Binance Coin472.65 0.60 % 1.79 % 12.99 %
Cardano2.220 0.73 % 3.20 % 0.43 %
Tether0.9986 0.03 % 0.08 % 0.23 %
XRP1.130 1.12 % 1.90 % 6.74 %
Solana158.93 1.18 % 7.50 % 0.01 %
Polkadot30.87 2.19 % 17.29 % 10.73 %
USD Coin1.000 0.14 % 0.20 % 0.17 %
Dogecoin0.2381 0.62 % 3.78 % 2.00 %

bitcoin
Bitcoin (BTC) $ 61,297.00
ethereum
Ethereum (ETH) $ 3,830.15
binance-coin
Binance Coin (BNB) $ 471.32
cardano
Cardano (ADA) $ 2.22
tether
Tether (USDT) $ 0.998932
xrp
XRP (XRP) $ 1.14
solana
Solana (SOL) $ 158.73
polkadot
Polkadot (DOT) $ 43.76
usd-coin
USD Coin (USDC) $ 0.997051
dogecoin
Dogecoin (DOGE) $ 0.237837