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An Empirical Analysis of Privacy in the Lightning Network

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNSC,volume 12674)


Payment channel networks, and the Lightning Network in particular, seem to offer a solution to the lack of scalability and privacy offered by Bitcoin and other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. Previous research has focused on the scalability, availability, and crypto-economics of the Lightning Network, but relatively little attention has been paid to exploring the level of privacy it achieves in practice. This paper presents a thorough analysis of the privacy offered by the Lightning Network, by presenting several attacks that exploit publicly available information about the network in order to learn information that is designed to be kept secret, such as how many coins a node has available or who the sender and recipient are in a payment routed through the network.

G. Kappos and H. Yousaf—Contributed equally. Full version of paper available at

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    Bitrefill, for example, sells a channel with an incoming balance of 5000000 satoshis (the equivalent at the time of writing of 493.50 USD) for 8.48 USD.

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    This would rather be a clique excluding a link between the sender and recipient, since otherwise they would presumably use their channel directly.

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George Kappos, Haaroon Yousaf and Sarah Meiklejohn are supported in part by EPSRC Grant EP/N028104/1, and in part by the EU H2020 TITANIUM project under grant agreement number 740558. Sanket Kanjalkar and Andrew Miller are supported by the NSF under agreement numbers 1801369 and 1943499. Sergi Delgado-Segura was partially funded by EPSRC Grant EP/N028104/1.

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Kappos, G. et al. (2021). An Empirical Analysis of Privacy in the Lightning Network. In: Borisov, N., Diaz, C. (eds) Financial Cryptography and Data Security. FC 2021. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 12674. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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