Latest report: Lightning Network's privacy and scalability advantages are lower than expected

According to a report by Cointelegraph on January 13, researchers at the cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX said that the Lightning Network Bitcoin has achieved less than expected advantages in privacy and scalability.


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A report released by BitMEX on January 11 shows that researchers are trying to infer information about private payment channels from readily available data to determine the growth of the Lightning Network.

The team focused on research on non-cooperative channel closures, and they believe that about 60,000 such transactions have occurred since Lightning Network began its activities.

When a Lightning Network node initiates a payment channel shutdown without directly communicating with the node connected to the channel, a non-cooperative channel shutdown will occur.

Non-cooperative channel closures are more common than expected

Non-cooperative channel closures are easier to track and identify, and must be confirmed in blocks on the blockchain. Because of these characteristics, BitMEX researchers concluded that the number of such transactions was higher than expected:

"In fact, non-cooperative shutdowns are more common than many people think, which means that Lightning Network's privacy and scalability advantages are also lower than many people expect. However, as users learn more about how to use Lightning Network , Coupled with the increased functionality of Lightning Wallet, the popularity of non-cooperative closures may decline. "

The report states that researchers initially expected to find 30,000 non-cooperative channels closed, but instead found 60,000 previously mentioned. A bolder estimate is that the number of shutdowns exceeded 90,000, which cost a total of 1 405 BTC.

Lightning cyber attacks are rare

The report also explains that in some cases, the closure of non-cooperative channels can cause one party to try to steal funds, which is called a Breach closure. If an attempted theft is found and the other party claims all funds, a fine can be traded after the termination of the breach. The report states that attempts to steal funds in this way are quite rare:

Our analysis shows that these fine transactions are very rare. Only 0.30% of non-cooperative closures resulted in fine transactions, which accounted for 0.22% of the total transaction value.

Although Lightning Network looks promising to many, it is still largely experimental. As Cointelegraph reported in early December 2019, a Reddit user "lost" 4 bitcoins on the Lightning Network, and subsequently published an advisory article based on his own experience. He also suggested that users interested in the system should thoroughly study how the system works before sending large amounts of bitcoin using the system.

Nonetheless, the almost senseless instant transactions promised by Lightning Network have been recognized by many in the cryptocurrency community. In November 2019, bond market veteran Nik Bhatia said that with the advent of the Lightning Network, Bitcoin has combined the advantages of value storage with transaction scale and speed, which has now become an unprecedented assets.