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Sphinx Advances Onion Routing Security on the BTC Lightning Network

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At the consensus 2019 Crypto Conference organized by the industry magazine Coindesk , it became known that the Bitcoin Lighting Network is getting an update. The proposal provides for the implementation of Onion Routing (OR) in Bitcoin Lightning. OR is the technology used in the Privacy Browser TOR (The Onion Router) . Blockstream developer Christian Decker was optimistic about Coindesk’s implementation of its proposal for improvement:

This allows for some cool new features, including multi-path routing, trampoline routing and so on. It’s on the agenda for today’s meeting of the [IRC Specification] and I’m confident it will be merged today so we can start the next wave of features.

According to this, Sphinx could already find its way into the standard specification of Bitcoin Lightning on May 14th.

Sphinx is supposed to make Bitcoin Lightning safer

In Onion Routing (OR), a user does not send their data together with their IP address (es) via a central server but via a random path from servers (relays or nodes). In this case, a node can only recognize from which node it has received a data packet and to which it forwards it. With each forwarding, the degree of anonymization increases, because each relay for the data packet means a further level of encryption. The nodes, relays and users constitute the onion routing network. There are several ways of constructing the path the data packet will take in the network.

Conventional OR networks have the disadvantage that an attacker can corrupt a node and seize their private key. In this way, he can hack “backwards” from node to node until he finally identifies the sender of the data packet. For the path construction the Bitcoin Lightning Network should therefore use the format “Sphinx” according to Decker’s suggestion.

One of the benefits of Sphinx is that it obscures the path length and position of a relay / node. In addition, an attacker who has hacked a node can not draw conclusions about the preceding or succeeding node.

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