1 - A survey of attacks on Ethereum smart contracts

19.4.2017 h11.00 - Aula F (Tiziana Cimoli)

Abstract. Smart contracts are computer programs that can be correctly executed by a network of mutually distrusting nodes, without the need of an external trusted authority. Since smart contracts handle and transfer assets of considerable value, besides their correct execution it is also crucial that their implementation is secure against attacks which aim at stealing or tampering the assets. We study this problem in Ethereum, the most well-known and used framework for smart contracts so far. We analyse the security vulnerabilities of Ethereum smart contracts, providing a taxonomy of common programming pitfalls which may lead to vulnerabilities. We show a series of attacks which exploit these vulnerabilities, allowing an adversary to steal money or cause other damage.

Resources.


2 - Typecoin: Peer-to-Peer Affine Commitment using Bitcoin

24.4.2017 h11.00 - Aula F (Alessandro Sebastian Podda)

Abstract. The power of linear and affine logic lies in their ability to model state change. However, in a trustless, peer-to-peer setting, it is difficult to force principals to commit to state changes. We show how to solve the peer-to-peer affine commitment problem using a generalization of Bitcoin in which transactions deal in types rather than numbers. This has applications to proof-carrying authorization and mechanically executable contracts. Importantly, this system can be—and is—implemented on top of the existing Bitcoin network, so there is no need to recruit computing power to a new protocol.

Resources.


3 - Catena: Efficient Non-equivocation via Bitcoin

10.5.2017 h15.00 - Aula F (Stefano Lande)

Abstract. We discuss Catena, an efficiently-verifiable Bitcoin witnessing scheme. Catena enables any number of thin clients, such as mobile phones, to efficiently agree on a log of application-specific statements managed by an adversarial server. Catena implements a log as an OP_RETURN transaction chain and prevents forks in the log by leveraging Bitcoin’s security against double spends. Specifically, if a log server wants to equivocate it has to double spend a Bitcoin transaction output. Thus, Catena logs are as hard to fork as the Bitcoin blockchain: an adversary without a large fraction of the network’s computational power

cannot fork Bitcoin and thus cannot fork a Catena log either. However, different from previous Bitcoin-based work, Catena decreases the bandwidth requirements of log auditors from 90

GB to only tens of megabytes. More precisely, our clients only need to download all Bitcoin block headers (currently less than 35 MB) and a small, 600-byte proof for each statement in a block. We implement Catena in Java using the bitcoinj library and use it to extend CONIKS, a recent key transparency scheme, to witness its public-key directory in the Bitcoin blockchain where it can be efficiently verified by auditors. We show that Catena can secure many systems today, such as public-key directories, Tor directory servers and software transparency schemes.

Resources.


4. Ponzi schemes on Bitcoin

19.5.2017 h15.00 - Aula F (Sergio Serusi)

Abstract. We present an empirical analysis of Bitcoin-based scams: operations established with fraudulent intent. By amalgamating reports gathered by voluntary vigilantes and tracked in online forums, we identify 192 scams and categorize them into four groups: Ponzi schemes, mining scams, scam wallets and fraudulent exchanges. In 21% of the cases, we also found the associated Bitcoin addresses, which enables us to track payments into and out of the scams. We find that at least $11 million has been contributed to the scams from 13000 distinct victims. Furthermore, we present evidence that the most successful scams depend on large contributions from a very small number of victims. Finally, we discuss ways in which the scams could be countered.

Resources.

 


5. Truebit: offchain computations for smart contracts

25.5.2017 h15.00 - Aula F (Daniele Stefano Ferru)

Abstract. Bitcoin and Ethereum, whose miners arguably collectively comprise the most powerful computational resource in the history of mankind, offer no more power for processing and verifying transactions than a typical smart phone. The system described herein bypasses this bottle-neck and brings scalable computation to Ethereum. Our new system consists of a financial incentive layer atop a dispute resolution layer where the latter takes form of a versatile “verification game.” In addition to secure outsourced computation, immediate applications include decentralized mining pools whose operator is an Ethereum smart contract, a cryptocurrency with scalable transaction throughput, and a trustless means for transferring currency between disjoint cryptocurrency systems.


6. La tecnologia blockchain: fondamenti e prospettive scientifiche e applicative

8.6.2017 h14.00 - Aula F (Michele Marchesi)

Abstract. TBA


7. A journey into Bitcoin metadata

14.6.2017 h11.00 - Aula F (Livio Pompianu)

Abstract. The Bitcoin protocol allows to save arbitrary data on the blockchain through a special instruction of the scripting language, called OP RETURN. A growing number of protocols exploit this feature to extend the range of applications of the Bitcoin blockchain beyond transfer of currency. A point of debate in the Bitcoin community is whether loading data through OP RETURN can negatively affect the performance of the Bitcoin network with respect to its primary goal. This paper is an empirical study of the usage of OP RETURN over the years. We identify several protocols based on OP RETURN, which we classify by their application domain. We measure the evolution in time of the usage of each protocol, the distribution of OP RETURN transactions by application domain, and their space consumption.