The research is focused on a mechanism called “Justice Transactions” that punish dishonest parties and prevent them from stealing funds from other Lightning channels. According to the report, 241 Justice transactions were identified, representing 2.22 bitcoin in value, since the Lightning Network was launched at the end of 2017.
Justice Has Been Served
On July 15, 2019, Bitmex published its third report on the Lightning Network concerning channel closures and the incentives designed to prevent dishonest lightning nodes from stealing funds by broadcasting an earlier channel state.
To prevent this behavior, the lightning network enables a defense system named “justice transactions” which involve the closure of the suspicious channel. It should be noted that the punishment is not limited to the loss of the funds linked with the theft but also concerns all the bitcoin in the relevant channel.
The study analyzed transactions which appear to be justice channel closures, dating back as far as December 2017 when the Lightning Network was effectively launched. Data collected goes up to June 2019 and identifies a total of 241 possibly dishonest transactions which corresponds to a total of 2.22 bitcoin.
Bitmex used its own methodology to search for justice transactions, which was described as a “basic search methodology.” The research also proposes an alternative method developed by Alex Bosworth, from Lightning Labs, that may be more robust.
It is important to specify that the 2.22 BTC represents the total funds claimed by honest non-channel closing nodes but this does not necessarily mean that thieves tried to steal all that money.