51% Attack Security: Delayed Proof of Work (dPoW)

Komodo Team
Komodo Team

51% Attack Security: Delayed Proof of Work (dPoW)
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Update: In June 2021, dPoW switched to the Litecoin network for more efficient cross-chain notarizations.

Komodo’s technology vision is anchored to the 4 Pillars of Blockchain Technology: security, scalability, interoperability, and adaptability. This post will explain Komodo's innovative Delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) security mechanism and its corresponding Blockchain Security Service.

Blockchain Security Is Often Inadequate

In the blockchain industry, security is the most important aspect for any project or business. If a blockchain isn’t secure, it’s simply a matter of time before it gets hacked.

Over the last few years, there have been a number of successful attacks recently that demonstrate this point. This includes some major projects that sit in the top 100 coins according to market capitalization value. Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum Classic, and Verge, just to name a few, have all fallen victim to hackers.

Here's a summary of recorded 51% attacks and the amount of losses incurred in each one.

As these figures show, 51% attacks are an enormous problem. And it's not just smaller blockchains that are vulnerable-- almost every Proof of Work blockchain project is at risk.

To add an impenetrable security layer and mitigate the threat of a 51% attack, Komodo uses the delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) security mechanism.

Komodo’s Security Mechanism: Delayed Proof of Work (dPoW)

Komodo's delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) mechanism recycles the hashrate of the Litecoin network to protect all integrated blockchains an equal level of security. This is made possible by storing backups of individual blocks onto the decentralized ledgers of other blockchains, including Litecoin itself.

The process of storing backups of individual blocks onto another blockchain's ledger is called notarization. Komodo's decentralized network of 64 Notary Nodes carries out the technical work required to successfully complete notarizations. Each year, the 32 top-performing Notary Nodes are automatically re-elected to reward diligence and ensure continuity in the peer to peer network. The other 32 Notary Node positions are decided at the ballot by the Komodo community in an annual stake-weighted election.

Komodo’s Notary Node network uses a command called OP_RETURN to complete notarizations. In short, this command allows a small amount of data to be saved directly onto the Litecoin ledger with a special transaction. The transaction requires payment of one ordinary transaction fee but does not actually move funds from one address to another. Instead, an OP_RETURN transaction is made specifically to save a small amount of data onto the LTC ledger.

With Komodo’s Notary Node network and the OP_RETURN command, the Litecoin's massive hashrate can be recycled to secure other blockchains. This is precisely what delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) does.

The Delayed Proof of Work Process

The delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) security process works as follows.

First, the Notary Node network saves a block hash from every dPoW protected chain onto the KMD chain. Block hashes are taken from blocks roughly ten minutes old, ensuring that each chain’s decentralized network has confirmed that those blocks are true and valid. This is ordinary blockchain consensus as it works on any blockchain's network.

Then, the Notary Nodes save a block hash from the KMD chain onto the LTC chain. Since a block hash from every dPoW-secured chain is already stored on the KMD chain, this single notarization extends to not just Komodo, but every chain using delayed Proof of Work security.

Finally, the Notary Node network performs back notarizations to all dPoW-protected chains. This informs each individual network that a successful notarization was completed and identifies which block was notarized.

At that point, networks will not accept any changes to a notarized block or any blocks that preceded it. After a notarization is completed, dPoW-secured chains cannot be re-organized beyond the most recently notarized block. In other words, the history of every chain using delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) security becomes totally immutable once a notarization is complete.

The entire dPoW process described occurs roughly every ten minutes. This provides a constant and extremely high level of security to all dPoW-protected chains. As such, hackers would need to overpower the Litecoin network and the Komodo network in order to destroy the notarized block hashes before they could disrupt or alter any blockchain using delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) security.

Delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) as a Service

Newly-formed Proof of Work blockchains are often vulnerable to outside attacks because they have little hashrate to protect themselves. The peer to peer network simply isn't powerful enough to ward off attackers.

Komodo can help mitigate this risk with the delayed Proof of Work Blockchain Security service. This service is available to any UTXO-based blockchains.

Komodo's Blockchain Security Service is already demonstrating its functionality and efficacy. Blockchains receiving Blockchain Security as a Service from Komodo include SmartFi, Pirate Chain, Gleec, Einsteinium, and dozens of others.

There are many small- and mid-sized blockchain projects with plenty of potential, but also plenty of vulnerability. Komodo hopes to provide the protection necessary for these new projects—and the blockchain industry as a whole—to grow and prosper. Every project deserves the opportunity to succeed or fail on its own merit, without outside interference from malevolent actors.

However, it’s difficult for small blockchain projects to develop a peer to peer network powerful enough to ward off attackers. Cryptocurrency mining on new blockchains is a risky allocation of resources, so many crypto miners prefer to put their machines to work on established blockchains. That way, they are more likely to see a return on their investment.

As more and more miners choose to mine reputable blockchains, like Litecoin, larger networks are developing an insurmountable lead on hashrate. And a large hash rate is what ensures the security of a blockchain. Litecoin, of course, remains one of the world’s strongest network.

While the environmental concerns surrounding this quantity of energy usage of Proof of Work are important, that discussion is outside the scope of this article. The point is that the Litecoin network is insanely powerful and will not be surpassed at any point in the foreseeable future.

So rather than dedicating resources to increasing the hash rate of your own blockchain, why not simply recycle the enormous hashrate that the Litecoin network already has?

That’s exactly what Komodo’s Delayed Proof of Work (dPoW) mechanism can do for you.

If you’re interested in partnering with Komodo to secure your blockchain with dPoW services, please contact us at [email protected].

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