Stake-Bleeding Attacks on Proof-of-Stake Blockchains

Peter Gaži, A. Kiayias, Alexander Russell

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

Abstract / Description of output

We describe a general attack on proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchains without checkpointing. Our attack leverages transaction fees, the ability to treat transactions "out of context," and the standard longest chain rule to completely dominate a blockchain. The attack grows in power with the number of honest transactions and the stake held by the adversary, and can be launched by an adversary controlling any constant fraction of the stake. With the present statistical profile of blockchain protocols, the attack can be launched given a few years of prior blockchain operation; hence it is within the realm of feasibility for PoS protocols. Most importantly, it demonstrates how closely transaction fees and rewards are coupled with the security properties of PoS protocols. More broadly, our attack must be reflected and countered in any future PoS design that avoids checkpointing, as well as any effort to remove checkpointing from existing protocols. We describe several mechanisms for protecting against the attack that include context-sensitivity of transactions and chain density statistics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2018 Crypto Valley Conference on Blockchain Technology (CVCBT)
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5386-7204-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-5386-7205-1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Nov 2018
Event1st Crypto Valley Conference on Blockchain Technology - Zug Casino, Zug, Switzerland
Duration: 20 Jun 201822 Jun 2018


Conference1st Crypto Valley Conference on Blockchain Technology
Abbreviated titleCVCBT 2018
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • cryptographic protocols
  • electronic money
  • transaction processing
  • blockchain protocols
  • PoS protocols
  • stake-bleeding attacks
  • proof-of-stake blockchains
  • transaction fees
  • cryptocurrencies
  • Protocols
  • Checkpointing
  • History
  • Bitcoin
  • Stakeholders
  • blockchain
  • proof of stake
  • attack


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