A brand-new paper which analyzes the Ripple network concluded that the network does not reach true consensus, as its protocol “may violate safety and liveness,” and doesn’t follow the established models and algorithms for a Byzantine agreement.
Report Claims XRP’s Network Is Vulnerable to Malicious Actors
According to Ignacio Amores-Sesar, Christian Cachin, and Jovana Micic, researchers from the University of Bern, the Ripple consensus protocol introduces the idea of “subjective validators”, such that every node declares “some trusted validators.”
In the case of Bitcoin and Ethereum, both reach consensus permissionlessly through Proof-of-Work (PoW). However, through Byzantine systems, access is permissioned as the system can’t block malicious actors. The paper goes in-depth by explaining the mechanism:
The designers of Ripple aimed at opening up membership in the set of validator nodes compared to BFT [Byzantine-fault-tolerant] consensus. The trusted validators of a node are defined by a Unique Node List (UNL), which plays an important role in the formalization of the protocol.
The research explains that a consensus protocol in a blockchain network must guarantee that “nothing bad ever happens” – malicious participants cannot double-spend a token –, calling it “safety,” and the network should “continue to process transactions” in parallel, known as “liveness.”
As there are no proper conditions in terms of network-wide validation in XRP’s network of what’s being communicated through it, the paper explains why it’s vulnerable to simple attacks by threat actors.
The consensus protocol of the Ripple network is brittle and fails to ensure consensus as commonly understood in computer science and among blockchain practitioners.
However, the University of Bern’s researchers clarified that their explanations given on the paper with samples of attacks on the Ripple network are “purely theoretical” because, as of press time, a live attack has not been seen yet on XRP.
If Ripple had adopted one of the standard Byzantine-fault-tolerant (BFT) consensus protocols, “then the network would not be exposed to such dangers,” the researchers said.
Do you agree with the paper’s findings on the Ripple network? Let us know in the comments section below.
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