Selfish Mining Attacks Exacerbated by Elastic Hash Supply

Abstract

Several attacks have been proposed against Proof-of-Work blockchains, which may increase the attacker’s share of mining rewards (e.g., selfish mining, block withholding). A further impact of such attacks, which has not been considered in prior work, is that decreasing the profitability of mining for honest nodes incentivizes them to leave the attacked chain for a more profitable one (or to stop mining). The departure of honest nodes exacerbates the attack and may further decrease profitability and incentivize more honest nodes to leave. In this paper, we first present empirical analysis showing that there is statistically significant correlation between profitability of mining and the total hash rate, confirming that miners indeed respond to changing profitability. Second, we present a theoretical analysis showing that selfish mining under such elastic hash supply leads either to the collapse of a chain or to a stable equilibrium depending on the attacker’s initial share.

Publication
25th International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security (FC 2021)
Note
Acceptance rate: 25%
Aron Laszka
Aron Laszka
Assistant Professor

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