Lightning Network May Have Channel Issue BlockBlog

The below is a direct excerpt from Marty’s Bent Issue #1253: “Channel jamming research you should read.” Subscribe to the newsletter here.

Channel jamming makes transferring payments nearly impossible

The developers are working on ways to brainstorm potential issues and test their solutions for some shortcomings in the Lightning Network.

by Antoine Riard and Gleb Naumenko

Here is a great website by Antoine Riard and Gleb Naumenko that solves the problem of channel jamming on the Lightning Network. I highly recommend checking it out if you want to better understand one of the Lightning Network’s biggest attack vectors and how developers are thinking about it. Briefly, a channel jamming attack is a denial of service attack that allows one or more malicious actors to prevent routing nodes from transferring payments within a channel. Increase the number of failed payments and reduce the reliability of the Lightning Network as a whole during the process. Not ideal, but entirely possible at the moment.

It may not make you feel good, but that is the reality we find ourselves in today. While many see incredible promise in the Lightning Network, myself included, it’s also important that we be upfront with its shortcomings so that we can attempt to fix them as we build the network. Trying to pretend they don’t exist won’t help in the long run. That’s why we’re extremely lucky that smart individuals like Riard and Naumenko, among so many others, are out there to do some very important research, brainstorming, and testing to discover ways to solve these problems.

On this site, you will be able to read about some of the proposed solutions that exist for the channel jamming problem, which include modifying the channel structure using a commit tree, actively defending against an attack as it happens. ‘it happens by opening up other channels (doesn’t seem ideal), and the concept of grouping different slots on a small and large denomination of sats, isolating channels of a particular size. There doesn’t seem to be consensus on whether any of these solutions are ideal or practical on a large scale. However, this website is a great starting point to fuel the conversation between developers and users who want to solve this problem. Greater awareness brings more minds to think about these issues, and that’s a good thing in the long run.

Kudos to Riard, Naumenko, and all the other developers working to fix these issues. The work they do is very important and could prove to make humanity more free and the world a better place in our lives.