The general public will try to find vulnerabilities in the Lightning Network

Although many consider the Lightning Network as the main hope for solving the problem of scaling bitcoin, it is unclear whether some developers are working on the embodiment of a dream into reality.

According to Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark, the full-time developers involved in solving technical problems of the project are only about 10. This circumstance hinders the development and launch of the Lightning Network. Against this background, a group of 26 universities, known as Bsafe.network, launched a contest that attracts people to evaluate technologies for creating second-tier networks based on bitcoin, and specifically Lightning.

Despite the fact that the prize has not yet been named, the contest is designed to encourage engineers, students and professors to assess the security and confidentiality of the network and “develop attack patterns” that attackers can use to violate the integrity of payments through the Lightning network. Fresh blood in testing is by the way because users and developers are trying to finally see Lightning in the case.

While Lightning Network developers recommend using the technology only in a test network with trial tokens, several active users and developers began to play with the technology, transferring real money. Some of these fearless testers even managed to lose some money in this process. Several companies, such as the TorGuard VPN provider, are already accepting Lightning Network payments.

“The event is inspired by successful contests to improve cryptography standards commonly used on the Internet to protect data such as AES and SHA-3,” said Bsafe.network co-founder and Georgetown University professor Shinichiro Matsuo.

“Bsafe’s global test network,” he continued, “supported by universities, will act as a neutral research body for analyzing data on testing the Lightning Network.” In his commentary, Matsuo also said that in his opinion, through the mentioned competition in the future there will be a lot of improvements to the Lightning network.

Applications for an open tender for all applicants should start in March. After all the attack models are presented, the universities will test each of them in the global test network Bsafe, completing the contest by the conference in August, where the winners will be announced.

It is necessary to find out everything

Matsuo expressed his hope that the materials will cover the issue of the security and confidentiality of technology, as well as the methods of its interaction with the “first level” of crypto-currency networks.

Since no one can tell in advance how exactly the technology will be used and what loads it will be exposed to, the competition can help. Inviting the willing of the world to provide test data, which will be analyzed by scientists from different countries and regions, Matsuo suggests that a competitive atmosphere will help shed light on what are the specific shortcomings of the technology.

“To enhance the scalability of payments, there is a need for second-tier technologies, such as the Lightning Network, but they can change the trust model, which means that the Lightning Network may not become fully decentralized,” the developer explained. Because of this technology has its critics, the most radical of which asserts that in practice the network will not be decentralized. Thus, the competition is an attempt to gather information about the strengths and weaknesses of the Lightning Network.

Open competition

After the prizes are awarded and the prizes are awarded, Bsafe.network plans to “reveal the cards” by publishing the source codes of the projects so that the cryptocurrency community can try to find out the winner and then test its guess.

But, in addition to improving the Lightning network, Matsuo hopes that Bsafe.network will have a wider impact on the industry. Matsuo would like to see this contest become only the first of many and intends to develop a network of universities belonging to the initial group in order to make it more diverse. “With a jury from 26 different universities (and this is not the limit), holding an open competition will provide us with a neutral result that we can compare with our technologies,” he said.

And if the university group is able to convince the wider public in its neutrality, for example, the heated debates about the size of the blocks – in the community they can ask Bsafe for advice on the basis of the tests conducted. According to the founder, the bile of the debate can be neutralized when Bsafe provides technical data. He concluded: “In cryptography, such systems are already working, but for bitcoin and blockchain we still need a more neutral way of analyzing the technologies.”

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