He lost 4 bitcoins due to operational errors. Is the lightning network rule too strict?

The lightning network may have a huge impact on Bitcoin and the entire cryptocurrency field, but it still has some problems.

Earlier today, Reddit user INWHY shared an experience of his own, which resulted in the loss of 4 bitcoins due to operational errors on the lightning network.

Lightning network

Although this is far from the first problem in the lightning network, the amount of the loss this time is large. INWHY pointed out in the post that he issued a command to shut down his active node due to a power outage causing his network to drop.

What went wrong?

A lightning network is essentially a network of payment channels from point A to point B between nodes. After the user broadcasts the funds to the network, they can send their bitcoins to their destinations through these different channels without any cost.

In order to unlock funds in the network, the user must broadcast to let the node go offline.

In this way, the current state of the funds provided and received is passed to other nodes, and the funds allocated to the existing nodes are returned to the user.

However, if the node is closed by a network account that has expired, and the most recent transaction is not included, then other connected nodes can mark the behavior as erroneous and use the updated transaction history as evidence.

In this case, users who choose to leave the network will be forced to give up their own bitcoin.

When INWHY forced his node to be shut down, he used a transaction backup a few days ago – probably because he was unable to get the latest backup due to a power outage.

The other nodes he connected to discovered his behavior of shutting down the node and provided the latest transaction history, so his 4 bitcoins were confiscated.

a mistake that can be avoided

It may seem cruel to lose all funds just because of operational errors, but this mechanism is mainly used to stop malicious activities.

If the user makes a transaction on the Lightning Network and then uses the history before the transaction to close the transaction, then in theory, if no protection measures are implemented, they can reacquire the funds and complete the transaction.

While the system can effectively prevent cheating, it certainly does not take into account user error, and in extreme cases, this zero-tolerance rule system can have a large number of unpredictable consequences due to user error.

While it is difficult to prove that a system can cost thousands of dollars in the event of a user error, it is important to recognize that this situation can be avoided.

Users can use a static backup system. That is, when a new node is created, the network status is logged.

Alternatively, they can use dynamic backups to update when the transaction is broadcast.

In addition, each node already has a capacity limit of 0.16 BTC. Users who lose 4 bitcoins may need to run more than 20 nodes.

So, although the situation is terrible, this is another example of the lightning network that needs more tests. This type of loss could have been alleviated if it was not completely avoided.