Bitcoin (BTC) And Litecoin (LTC) Lightning Networks Being Heavily Data Mined
Bitcoin And Litecoin Lightning Networks Being Heavily Data Mined
The Lightning Network (LN) has been fronted as the solution to the scaling problems associated with Bitcoin and Litecoin blockchains. LN sits on top of the Bitcoin and Litecoin blockchain and helps facilitate faster transactions.
Unfortunately, the Bitcoin and Litecoin Lighting Networks are being heavily data mined. As ncklr, a tweeter user, noted:
PSA: The Lightning Network is being heavily data mined right now. Opening channels allows anyone to cluster your wallet and associate your keys with your IP address. Use Tor, use private channels, use coinjoins …
— ncklr (@n1ckler) May 29, 2019
What Is Data Mining?
Data mining “is the process of discovering patterns in large data sets.” In most cases, data miners concentrate on discovering an association in those data sets. For example, businesses may conduct data mining to better understand the trend in consumer behavior based on logical relationships unearthed from large sets of data. While data mining may be done to help better the services provided, it has its shortcomings.
While it may mean just getting hold of data and looking for relationships, when abused, it can lead to more harm than good.
Nodes And Channels Increase
For context, the Bitcoin Lighting Network, in 2019, has reached over 30,000 channels and approximately 7,000 nodes. A channel is a communication path that enables two parties to conduct secure transactions on the network. Therefore, an increase in the number of channels means more people are using the Lightning Network.
Nodes act as transaction validators on the Lightning Network. Therefore, an increase in the number of validators implies that the network is gaining momentum as a layer two scaling solution.
With such an increase in the number of people joining the network, data mining can scare people away from using on the network. Reason? With data mining, a private key can be tied to an LN user’s IP address. The Internet Protocol (IP) is a unique identifier of one computer on the internet. Although the IP is not an accurate way of locating the exact physical location of a computer, it can give a general view of the country and city from where you are operating.
An IP Can’t Be In The Wrong Hands
Additionally, and most worrying, an IP can be used to connect to a computer remotely. With a successfully remote desktop connection, a malicious party can take over the control of your computer. This can often lead to the attacker accessing your files, including access to your favorite cryptocurrency exchange and even the wallet application installed on your computer. If coincidentally, the attacker accesses your computer when you have an active session with your exchange or wallet, they can withdraw your BTCs or LTCs with ease.
But all is not lost. To block data miners from accessing your data,
“use Tor, use private channels, use CoinJoins.”
Tor is a browser that enhances anonymous communication. On the other hand, CoinJoin protects the privacy of cryptocurrency users by allowing multiple parties to mix their individual transactions. Coinjoin makes it hard for data miners to trace the relationship between transactions. As a Redditor noted:
“If you use the mitigations… (private, CoinJoin, tor) lightning payments can be more private than on-chain payments.”