InfoSec Seminar: Fraud Proofs: Maximising Light Client Security and Scaling Blockchains with Dishonest Majorities

Speaker: Mustafa Al-Bassam

Date/Time: 07-Feb-2019, 16:00 UTC

Venue: Robert 3.09



Light clients, also known as Simple Payment Verification (SPV) clients, are nodes which only download a small portion of the data in a blockchain, and use indirect means to verify that a given chain is valid. Typically, instead of validating block data, they assume that the chain favoured by the blockchain's consensus algorithm only contains valid blocks, and that the majority of block producers are honest. By allowing such clients to receive fraud proofs generated by fully validating nodes that show that a block violates the protocol rules, and combining this with probabilistic sampling techniques to verify that all of the data in a block actually is available to be downloaded, we can eliminate the honest-majority assumption, and instead make much weaker assumptions about a minimum number of honest nodes that rebroadcast data. Fraud and data availability proofs are key to enabling on-chain scaling of blockchains (e.g. via sharding or bigger blocks) while maintaining a strong assurance that on-chain data is available and valid. We present, implement, and evaluate a novel fraud and data availability proof system.


Mustafa is a PhD student at the Information Security Research Group at UCL and a co-founder at His research interests include the intersections of peer-to-peer systems, distributed ledgers and information security.

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