Gitcoin COO: How to Build a “Web3 Anti-Scalping” System

Building a "Web3 Anti-Scalping" System: Insights from Gitcoin's COO

The key is to make the “attack cost” greater than the “defense cost”.

This article is sourced from: Gitcoin

Original author: Kyle Weiss, COO of Gitcoin

Translator: Odaily Planet Daily Azuma

A Sybil attack (commonly known as “flipping hair” in the airdrop industry) is a very serious problem that undermines the trust and integrity of decentralized networks.

Decentralized mechanisms rely on a “unique identity assumption” to operate-each participant on the network has an independent identity, and different identities have equal voices-however, when a single user creates multiple false identities through a Sybil attack and manipulates the system, This assumption no longer holds.

Through a Sybil attack, a user can create multiple false addresses, and then obtain airdrop rewards far beyond a single address. This behavior distorts the distribution ratio of rewards, destroys the original airdrop plan, and the plan should have played a role in motivating real users.

Gitcoin’s secondary matching mechanism and voting mechanism also rely on the “unique identity assumption” mentioned above to operate. If Sybil attacks are not resisted, votes and funds may be disproportionately allocated to unexpected false identities, thereby reducing high-quality participants. The votes and funds that should be obtained.

This article introduces a brand new concept and strategy-“forgery cost” (Cost of Forgery). This concept takes into account the cost, time, and energy required for attackers to create false identities. By implementing this concept, the attacker’s cost can be magnified, and the cost of normal users can be kept at a low level. In this way, the project can use this concept to limit Sybil attack behavior.

Where is the key point of breaking the game?

The types of Sybil attacks are very complex, and the initiators may be “scientists”, criminal organizations, or even a national country. The motives may be interests, entertainment, or pure malice. These opponents may try completely different attack strategies, such as identity theft, IP manipulation, zombie networks, social engineering attacks, coercion collusion, etc. The strategies to curb these attacks are different, and what we need is a comprehensive and anti-fragile resistance method.

In my view, the most important thing is to “make the cost of attack higher than the cost of defense”, which means that the cost of launching a successful attack on the system should be higher than the cost of effectively defending against such attacks. By economically inhibiting attackers, the system can be more resilient to witch attacks and other types of fraud.

“Balance between security, efficiency and scalability”

Resisting witch attacks requires that each identity be independent and unique. Currently, some protocols have achieved resistance to witch attacks while ensuring self-sovereignty (creating and controlling identities without the participation of centralized third parties) and privacy (obtaining and using identities without disclosing personal information). These three dimensions (resistance to witch attacks, protection of self-sovereignty, and protection of privacy) are the three dilemmas facing decentralized identities.

To solve the witch attack challenge and establish a reliable identity recognition system, the balance between security, efficiency, and scalability needs to be considered when building a witch attack resistance system. Although higher security can achieve better resistance, it can also limit the efficiency and scalability of the system. Conversely, prioritizing efficiency and scalability may also lead to weaker resistance, so finding the best balance between these different factors is essential to building a decentralized identity system that can resist witch attacks. This is also why there is no single answer to the problem of witch attacks, and there will be multiple methods.

Gitcoin Blockingssport’s measures

In Gitcoin Blockingssport (a chain-based identity credential system developed by Gitcoin), the team uses two mechanisms to evaluate users’ independent identities: Gradual Unique Humanity Verification and Boolean Unique Humanity Verification. These mechanisms assign weights to users’ various behavioral achievements (such as whether they have verified their Twitter or Google account, whether they hold GTC or ETH, and whether they have participated in Gitcoin Grants), and Blockingssport calculates the holder’s overall score. The score can determine whether a Blockingssport holder can unlock certain rights, functions, or other benefits. For example, in order to activate the second round matching qualification in the previous Gitcoin Grants Beta Round, the donor’s comprehensive score must be at least 15.

In the next stage of development, the Gitcoin Blockingssport team is exploring the concept of “cost of fraud” as another mechanism to help projects design their anti-witch attack systems. “Cost of fraud” provides some design choices, such as using easily understood metrics to safely distribute airdrops.

How to implement the concept of “cost of fraud”

The concept of “cost of fraud” is essentially a strategy that makes it more expensive for attackers to forge identities, with the key point being to compare the resources, time, and energy required to forge identities with the cost of implementing defenses. By increasing the cost of fraud, attackers are less likely to engage in fraudulent behavior, thereby increasing the security of the system.

If the main strategy of “cost of fraud” is to increase the cost for attackers while keeping the cost for regular users at a low level, then what we need to do is create a system that is more expensive to attack than to defend. The following are the four main methods currently under construction to resist witch attacks:

1. Verification based on government-issued identification (driver’s license, passport, ID card, etc.);

2. Verification based on biometric information (facial scan, fingerprint or retinal scan, etc.);

3. Face-to-face (meeting, gathering, etc.) verification;

4. Verification based on social/trust networks (Web2 account, Web3 account, NFT, ENS, etc.).

In future versions of Gitcoin Blockingssport, we will classify and verify different behaviors according to these four methods to ensure that multiple mechanisms are in place, as there is no single solution that can completely prevent witch attacks, and using multiple mechanisms can make the system more resistant to different types of attacks.

Potential drawbacks

Although the concept of “cost of fraud” may be effective, if the total cost of fraud in the system is equal to the amount of funds in the system, it may make it possible for only wealthy individuals to obtain identities. This raises a potential challenge that it may inevitably lead to the “richification” result, so it is necessary to prioritize verification mechanisms that require less funding. Financial status should not affect the acquisition of identity.

Advice to project parties

Any plan to resist witch attacks can be cracked at a certain cost, so project parties need to focus on determining an acceptable level of fraud; individuals should be able to obtain anti-witch certification more effectively through appropriate channels, rather than purchasing it on gray or black markets; although it is necessary to design the cost of fraud at a high level, attention should also be paid to maintaining balance to avoid real users completing the verification.

It is worth noting that identity systems that can resist witch attacks are still vulnerable to collusion attacks (such as bribery). For an ideal system, the TCB (total bribery cost) and TCF (total deception cost) must be greater than the amount of rewards that citizens within the system can obtain. While cost-based measures are essential in combating fraud, they are not always the most effective way to prevent it. If the potential non-economic benefits outweigh the costs, attackers may still be willing to incur a certain level of cost. For example, a competing party who wants to promote their own project may be willing to spend time and resources to create multiple false identities, even if the cost of fraud is quite high. In addition, opponents with a huge financial resource advantage may also be willing to bear high costs to gain valuable benefits or privileges.

Fortunately, there are other mechanisms that can help us reduce these attacks, and Gitcoin has also realized that only by adopting multiple solutions can we maintain an advantage in the fight against attackers.

Collaboration and Strategy

The concept of “deception cost” provides the community with a more refined and intuitive way to design the security, efficiency, and scalability of witch-resistant systems.

We are happy to collect more relevant feedback from the community. If you use Gitcoin Blockingsport in Dapps or plan to integrate it, please let us know the comparison between the overall score and the deception cost. Finally, it should be noted that with the advancement of technology, some identity verification mechanisms (such as reverse Turing tests) have become more vulnerable to artificial intelligence attacks, which may have a significant impact on the methods and designs of “deception cost”.

Note: All articles on Blocking represent only the author’s opinions and do not constitute investment advice
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