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Blockchain not as decentralised as first thought, says new report

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchains, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, may be more vulnerable to centralisation risks than initially thought, according to a report from Trail of Bits.

Cointelegraph reports that the a new report from the security firm titled “Are Blockchains Decentralized?”, which was commissioned by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), investigated whether blockchains, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are truly decentralised, though the report largely focused on Bitcoin.

Among its key findings, says Cointelegraph, the security firm found that outdated Bitcoin nodes, unencrypted blockchain mining pools and a majority of unencrypted Bitcoin network traffic traversing over only a limited number of ISPs could leave room for various actors to garner excessive and centralised control over the network.

The report states that a subnetwork of Bitcoin nodes is largely responsible for reaching consensus and communicating with miners and that a “vast majority of nodes do not meaningfully contribute to the health of the network.”

It also found that 21% of Bitcoin nodes are running an older version of the Bitcoin Core client, which is known to have vulnerability concerns such as consensus errors. It states that “it is vital that all DLT nodes operate on the same latest version of software, otherwise, consensus errors can occur and lead to a blockchain fork.”

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