A Composable Security Treatment of the Lightning Network

Aggelos Kiayias, Orfeas Stefanos Thyfronitis Litos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The high latency and low throughput of blockchain protocols constitute one of the fundamental barriers for their wider adoption. Overlay protocols, notably the lightning network, have been touted as the most viable direction for rectifying this in practice. In this work we present for the first time a full formalisation and security analysis of the lightning network in the (global) universal composition setting that leverages a global ledger functionality, for which realisability by the Bitcoin blockchain protocol has been demonstrated in previous work [Badertscher et al., Crypto’17]. As a result, our treatment delineates exactly how the security guarantees of the protocol depend on the properties of the underlying ledger and the frequent availability of the protocol participants. Moreover, we provide a complete and modular description of the core of the lightning protocol that highlights precisely its dependency to under-lying basic cryptographic primitives such as digital signatures, pseudorandom functions, identity-based signatures and a less common two-party primitive, which we term a combined digital signature, that were originally hidden within the lightning protocol’s implementation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE 33rd Computer Security Foundations Symposium (CSF)
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-6572-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-6573-8
Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2020
Event33rd IEEE Computer Security Foundations Symposium - Virtual Conference
Duration: 22 Jun 202025 Jun 2020

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1940-1434
ISSN (Electronic)2374-8303


Symposium33rd IEEE Computer Security Foundations Symposium
Abbreviated titleCSF 2020
CityVirtual Conference
Internet address

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