In Part 1 of this two-part series, we focused on an introduction to blockchain analysis of publicly available Lightning Network payment requests or “invoices” that were made during the second Lightning Torch relay event that took place in January 2020. We looked at analyzing the use of both custodial and noncustodial mobile wallets.
In this installment, I’ll examine possible scenarios where privacy may be compromised and ways to mitigate the risk when running a private node instance. This article will also bring attention to new techniques of transacting on the Lightning Network, including Multi-Path Payment and Key Send, and the reason these are especially important for Lightning Network reliability.
Private Node Setup
Under the “private” wallets I classified every other node that is being run, from eclair through c-lightning, lnd, or even electrum on the backend, and run in any possible scenario of being a plug-and-play solution, VPS-hosted, or a hacky project on one’s laptop or single board computer. In terms of self-custody, using a private node setup is the go-to option recommended by early adopters.
I would argue with the hardcore opinion that everyone should run their own Lightning Network node, at least as long as default solutions lead newer and less-savvy users to deanonymize themselves inadvertently. As long as these newcomers aren’t aware of all the pitfalls and downsides of their actions, they can inflict some harm on themselves.
Most plug-and-play nodes allow for Tor connections, and many users are taking advantage of this opportunity with open arms. Only a third of the 51 private nodes (online during the sampling) were set up using clearnet, with the majority running over Tor. That’s great news, as posting invoices by these users won’t deanonymize their location.
The second big problem of in-home solutions is the need to back up channel states. Even on a default noncustodial setup of either LND or c-lightning, one would have to use some custom script in order to export the channel state after every state change. In case of disaster, the backup file with the latest state would have to be exported to another machine and be perfectly into cloud/distributed storage. If the channel state turns out to be different (older) than the one negotiated with a peer, it would result in punishing the user by taking all of one’s funds (via a penalty transaction).
Actually, LND has an even better solution: A Static Channel Backup (SCB) doesn’t require saving the last state. Instead, it saves the channel information, so after rebooting the node on a different machine, it is still possible to inform peer nodes that they need to close the common channels with their last state. Peers would then use the latest state in order to avoid the risk of losing funds in a penalty transaction.
A third option involves the use of watchtowers, special nodes that store information about channel history. In case of any downtime during the operation of one’s node, a watchtower would stand guard and (in some cases) prevent cheating during the channel-closing stage.
However, these aforementioned backup scenarios are complicated to implement and none are currently part of a default LND/c-lightning node setup. So, even if a power user crosses the hurdle of channel backups and obfuscates their IP address, they would next have to try finding the holy grail: address obscurity.
There are voices saying that the Lightning Network is a privacy solution disguised as a payment protocol, but it relates to the activity inside the network.
One of the biggest problems with Lightning Network users deanonymizing themselves relates to the action of opening outbound channels. Every public Lightning Network channel starts with creating a bitcoin commitment transaction, and when we speak about transactions, there is a place for blockchain analytics.
Addresses in one’s “keychain” of wallets can be deanonymized by multiple heuristics with common input clustering as the lowest-hanging fruit. One way of breaking these heuristics is to perform a CoinJoin on the funds purposed for opening channels. Opening public channels using mixed coins is a good on-chain solution and requires prior action (using a CoinJoin service), but there is also another solution —opening private channels.
Just as in the case of noncustodial mobile wallets, one can open a private channel to a reputable peer so the outbound liquidity is always hidden to the rest of the network. As in the case of Breez and Acinq (Phoenix) nodes, the channels are visible to them. The same option applies in dealing with any other peer when opening private channels, so the safest solution is to do CoinJoin mixing followed by opening private outbound channels.
It’s Not All That Terrible!
While some members of the Lightning community deanonymized their location and bitcoin wallets in connection with their public Twitter profiles, there were others who used CoinJoin and/or private channels setup. That’s why I find it important to, once in a while, gather research and comment on the privacy outcomes of specific actions.
There were also members who used the new features of the Lightning Network, specifically multipath payments and key send. These users are standing at the forefront of Bitcoin/Lightning adoption, testing new frontiers of this emerging technology.
Multi-Path Payment (MPP) or Atomic Multi-Path Payment (AMP) is a feature especially interesting from a point of invoice receiver, who may not have one inbound channel with enough liquidity to make a payment. MPP helps by allowing the use of multiple channels and routes to accommodate for the whole payment amount. This is an amazing development and a fact that will silence many Lightning Network critics and their argument of limitations in payment volume related to the smallest channel in the route.
As this change rolled out for c-lightning, Acinq and LND just before the second iteration of the LN Torch, there was the possibility of it being used by members of the relay. AMP is a part of the routing process, so just from the invoice reading, there is no way to guess, but remembering last year’s struggle with invoices being too big for payments and the need to split them into smaller chunks manually, this year’s process was much smoother. This improvement is likely due to better LN infrastructure with balanced channels; the use of the AMP feature being used; and the fact that many of the torch bearer nodes (at least one-third) had the “MPP” feature open.
Key send is a type of spontaneous payment where there is no need for an invoice. Instead, the payee has to share the node’s public key to the sender; then the sending party can initiate the payments without the constraints of a standard invoice. It has many pros, like the ability to send recurring payments without the need to ask for an invoice, thereby mitigating expiration time of an invoice, or being able to specify the amount on the sender side. As of LND version 0.9.0-beta, it’s still an experimental feature, but it was used by two members of the #LNTrustchain2 to receive the torch.
Creating experiments like #LNTrustchain2 is an excellent way to obtain representative samples of Lightning Network activity, giving us a window into its future. It allows us to quantify the data, test features (key send/MPP) and also allows for Lightning Network fans to connect.
The part of these research results that struck me the most was related to the high-percentage use of custodial services. As the Lightning Network grows both technically and in terms of awareness and education, custodial wallets will have a hard time competing with the new waves of native Lightning wallets which don’t sacrifice usability for self-custody, like Phoenix or Breez.
I was positively surprised by the result of two-thirds of private node instances being interconnected not through clearnet, but by Tor. This is a very uplifting result when it comes to privacy and some aspects of censorship resistance (related to possible MiTM attacks). After all, we can’t forget that many blockchain analytic companies are also closely looking at the state of the Lightning Network and they will hone in on any privacy-leaking possibilities to add to their profit models.
Looking back from today’s perspective at the first time Hodlonaut launched the relay in 2019, the Lightning Network’s progress in terms of both privacy and UI is tremendous — and it appears ready to move beyond its reputation of being available only to technical users.
The author would like to thank Jarret Dyrbye for his helpful comments on the article and dataset gathered. All the data and results gathered are a part of blockchain analysis where the end result is probabilistic and relates to a type of analysis performed on the source.
The post What We Can Learn About Lightning From #LNTrustChain2: Part 2 appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.
Huobi Guide & Exchange Review: How to Trade Options, Futures, and Perpetual Swaps
Founded all the way back in 2013, Huobi Group is one of the leading blockchain companies in the industry.
It’s safe to say that the company has come a long way since then and it’s currently offering a variety of services for its wide user base. Employing people globally, Huobi offers a myriad of crypto-related services, including digital asset trading, wallet, mining pool, incubation, research, proprietary investment, and so forth.
Cryptocurrency trading has surged in interest throughout the past few years and exchanges such as Huobi have worked hard to expand their offerings. Derivatives products, apart from traditional spot trading, have exploded in interest, and Huobi is doing its best to accommodate.
Among its popular trading products are the futures, perpetual swaps, and options platforms. In this guide, we will take a closer look at how these tools operate and provide a step-by-step explanation of how to use them.
How to Register on Huobi?
Before anything else, however, you’d first have to register for an account. The process is fairly simple. There’s no mandatory Know-Your-Customer (KYC) procedure for spot trading, but if you want to start using the derivatives platforms, the ID verification is obligatory.
This is how the registration screen looks like:
All that is needed here is an email address that has to be verified through a verification code later on.
Once you have your account opened, it’s highly recommended to take a few additional security steps. First, it’s important to enable the Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), using the Google Authenticator app.
In addition, Huobi has taken a few extra steps that protect your account in the event of it being hacked such as email verification codes, phone verification codes, a designated fund password to ensure fiat asset security, and so forth.
If you want to trade on the derivatives platform, you’d have to go through an additional ID verification step which requires you to input your names, a government-issued passport, driving license or ID number, and upload a picture of it.
We’ve completed all the steps and, in our experience, the process was seamless and the KYC took no more than a few minutes to be completed and approved by Huobi’s team.
How to Deposit and Withdraw Funds?
Now that you have your account set up, it’s time to load it with some funds. Depositing is fairly straightforward and users can choose between a myriad of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, ETH, USDT, and many others.
From the top navigation bar, you need to hover over “Balances” and choose the account you wish to fund. Regardless of where you deposit initially, you can easily transfer the funds between the accounts – it’s instant.
After you select the cryptocurrency you want to deposit, all you need to do is click on the “deposit” button, which will pull up this screen. In this case, we’ve deposited the stablecoin USDT.
In any case, regardless of the cryptocurrency you deposit, make sure to correctly select the transaction network (when applicable) – in our case, we used USDT on Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard.
From here, you can make quick, zero-fees transfers between the different internal accounts and fund your derivatives one. All you need to do is open the account, select the currency that you want to transfer, specify the amount, and confirm the operation:
Once this is done, you are ready to begin using the offered derivatives products. Let’s have a look at all of them.
How to Trade Bitcoin Options on Huobi?
Options contracts are one of the most popular derivatives, used constantly in traditional finance. Lately, there’s a huge demand for cryptocurrency options as well. However, keep in mind, derivatives and options are not recommended for beginners as they carry more risk.
Huobi Futures has a dedicated options platform where currently users can trade both Bitcoin and Ethereum options. In this guide, we will focus on Bitcoin.
By definition, an options contract represents an agreement between two parties to facilitate a transaction on the underlying asset (in this case – Bitcoin/USDT index), at a preset price (known as the Strike Price), prior to the expiration date.
Purchasing a CALL option means that the buyer has the right to buy BTC corresponding to the contract face value at the strike price. On the other hand, a PUT option means that the buyer has the right to sell BTC under the same conditions.
In the top left corner is where you select the type of Bitcoin options contract you want to trade with. For this example, we’ve used the Weekly BTC contract with a strike price of $8,500 and expiry on September 18th, and a leverage level of 5x.
Below is the board where you can monitor the prices for the different contracts based on their strike price factor.
As can be seen in this example, our contract costs around $2,400 to buy (bid). Huobi uses a system where traders can open positions based on contracts, where one BTC options contract equals 0.001 BTC or about $10 at current rates, as of writing this guide.
The par-value for a contract of ETH option equals 0.01 ETH, or about $3 at current rates. Unlike other margin exchanges, users can join options trading on Huobi with fairly low entry barriers.
Now, let’s see how to open a CALL position, as we assume the price of Bitcoin will close above the strike price of $8,500 on September 18th.
From the order menu, we’ve selected a price that we want to buy the contract at – it’s $2414 and the number of Contracts that we want to purchase, in this case, it’s the maximum amount of 25 contracts, which is about $250.
As soon as we hit the Buy Call button, our Limit order will be placed and when the Mark price of the contract reaches it, the order will be executed and we will have 25 Contracts ($10 each) giving us the right to buy Bitcoin at $8,500 (strike price) when the contract expires on September 18th.
If the price of Bitcoin is above $8,500, we will realize a profit, if it’s below that, we will lose the options premium.
If you want to close the position, you can specify the price at which you want to close and the overall amount of your position that you want to close.
Now, in this example, we’ve only shown how to buy a CALL option for Bitcoin, but users can also buy PUT options and they can sell contracts as well. For detailed information on how to do those operations, you can check the official guide.
How to Trade Bitcoin Futures on Huobi?
Moving on, Bitcoin futures are also available on Huobi. Here, users can buy these contracts and speculate on whether or not the price of Bitcoin will be above or below the current price on a pre-set date.
From the left pane, users can choose from a verity of the over 60 cryptocurrencies and the available futures contracts. For Bitcoin, Huobi offers weekly, bi-weekly, quarterly, and bi-quarterly contracts, and supports leverage up to 125x.
Basically, if you believe that the price of Bitcoin will be higher than the current price at the expiration date of a given contract, you should open a long (buy) position. If you think it’s going to be lower, you should open a short (sell) position.
How to Trade Bitcoin Perpetual Swaps
Perpetual swaps are probably the most popular cryptocurrency derivative instrument. They are like traditional futures with the exception that they don’t have an expiry date. In other words, traders can open and close them whenever they want to.
It’s worth noting that Huobi even offers USDT/USD perpetual swaps with leverage of 1X -1000X, becoming the industry pioneer in USDT derivatives.
Besides, for the non-stablecoins, traders can use perpetual swaps with extremely high leverage of up to 125X for BTC swaps and 75X for other swaps. In other words, you can open a position worth 125 times the amount you have in your account.
Huobi Futures offers different leverages such as 1x, 3x,5x,20x, 125x, and even 1000x. Users can choose freely according to their needs.
While this brings opportunities for big profits, please be aware that it’s also extremely risky as the slightest movement in the opposite direction of your position can liquidate your position, causing you to lose your capital. Using high leverage is definitely not recommended for inexperienced traders.
Huobi’s overall customer support is very satisfying. From our test experience, the team is very responsive and easy to communicate with.
Elsewhere, the KYC verification process is particularly quick. After we submitted the documents needed for the identity verification, the team took no more than a few minutes to have them checked and approved the account for trading.
Security: Is it Safe to Trade on Huobi Futures?
Huobi is one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. It’s an established company with thousands of employees. While it’s never recommended to keep a large amount of crypto in an exchange, Huobi is regarded as being very safe to use.
The team has also added a myriad of additional security features that users can opt in to further protect their accounts. Of course, you should also beware of scam artists and phishing attacks.
Trading Fees on Huobi
When it comes to the trading fees, Huobi has various fees on its platforms, so let’s have a look at a detailed breakdown for individual traders:
- Futures Trading Fees
- Huobi Perpetual Swaps Trading Fees
- Huobi Options Trading Fees
It’s also worth mentioning that Huobi Futures also provides VIP Sharing Program and Market Maker Program to lower big user’s switching costs to Huobi. For example, Huobi options maker fee rebate is as high as 0.003 USDT per contract.
In general, Huobi is one of the most reputable exchanges out there and they live up to the statements. The customer support is quick and easy to communicate with, the exchange offers a range of different tools to accommodate the needs of various traders.
Their Bitcoin Options trading platform is convenient, rather intuitive, and easy to work with. There’s a range of different contracts with various leverage options and expiration dates.
Was This The 3rd Largest Hack In Crypto History? Data Shows $280 Million Drained From KuCoin
Newly aggregated data suggests that the hackers that recently compromised KuCoin’s hot wallets may have taken more than the estimated $150 million, as per the exchange’s report. Considering the updated numbers, the KuCoin hack would be the third-largest in history, with approximately $280 million stolen.
The KuCoin Hack: $280M Taken Instead Of $150M?
As CryptoPotato reported over the weekend, an unknown group of hackers exploited the hot wallets of the popular cryptocurrency exchange KuCoin. The platform quickly issued an official statement informing that the total amount stolen equaled $150 million worth of various digital assets.
Furthermore, KuCoin guaranteed that the exchange’s insurance fund will fully reimburse users.
However, the stolen amount could be significantly higher, according to the popular cryptocurrency researcher Larry Cermak. By examining wallets “very likely” associated with KuCoin, he estimated that the amount is actually $280 million, instead of $150 million.
He admitted that some of the tokens have been “frozen, forked, and blacklisted,” but the numbers he came up “don’t reflect that.” Consequently, Cermak questioned KuCoin’s ability to indeed cover the stolen funds from its insurance fund.
Cermak also offered a list of the coins “likely” to be recovered – Velo ($76 million), Tether ($22 million), Orion ($10 million), KardiaChain ($10 million), Ocean Protocol ($9 million), VIDT Datalink ($7 million), NOIA Network ($5 million), and Covesting ($600,000). This equals about 50% of all stolen funds.
Was This The Third-Largest Crypto Hack Ever?
If Cermak’s data is accurate, the KuCoin hack would be the third-largest to date in the cryptocurrency field.
The most significant one came in early January 2018. The victim was the Japanese digital asset exchange Coincheck.
After announcing that the platform has seized all NEM deposits, Coincheck later froze all NEM sales, purchases, and withdrawals. Later on, the exchange confirmed that perpetrators had swiped about $535 million worth of NEM. Interestingly, all stolen funds were grabbed again from the exchange’s hot wallets.
The second-largest hack occurred on maybe the most famous Bitcoin Japanese exchange – MT.GOX. In early 2014, the platform suspended all transactions, closed the site, and declared bankruptcy. A few months down the road, it became clear that MT.GOX was drained for about 850,000 Bitcoins – worth about $460 million at the time, and a lot more as of today’s BTC values.
According to a Tokyo-based security company that presented evidence in 2015, “most or all of the missing bitcoins were stolen straight out of the MT.GOX hot wallet over time.”
BTC Price Analysis: Is Bitcoin Ready To Break $11,000 As Crypto Market Cap Reclaims $350B?
Bitcoin price has finally broken bullish out of a 3-day channel (orange) and making good progress towards the psychological $11,000 level above.
The return of $9 billion to the global crypto market today has allowed BTC to return above $10,900 for the first time in 7 days and caused over $9 million worth of short liquidations on BitMEX – according to Datamish figures.
Avast majority of altcoins are also enjoying positive returns as Bitcoin lifts the rest of the market.
Despite the breakout, bearish traders are still putting up a strong fight right now. The $10,900 price point is seeing a lot of selling pressure bear down on the uptrend and is hindering Bitcoin’s current throwback rally attempt.
Price Levels to Watch in the Short-term
On the weekly BTC/USD, we can see that bulls are battling to break above the previous weekly open at $10,920. This is the first major resistance standing in the way of bitcoin’s progress towards $11K. Above this price point, we also have the $10,970 level which should create some friction in the uptrend.
Looking at the price action more closely on the 4-hour timeframe, we can see that bulls are trying to launch off from the 0.382 Fibonacci level at $10,832, which recently flipped from resistance to support. This is our first major support as BTC tries to reclaim $11K. If bears succeed in overcoming this key level, then we should expect to see prices fall back on the former channel resistance at around $10,810, and potentially dip back inside on to the 200 EMA (red) at $10,780.
Beneath that, we have the channel median line (dashed line) at $10,730 and the 50 EMA (blue) at $10,695 as additional supports.
Should bulls manage to break the $11,000 mark and maintain momentum, then the next test will be to conquer the 0.5 Fibonacci level at $11,150. With BTC already at 63 on the 4-hour RSI indicator, it’s possible that reaching this area will push the leading crypto into the overbought region and cause a sharp correction – be aware.
Total market capital: $353 billion
Bitcoin market capital: $201 billion
Bitcoin dominance: 57.0%
*Data by Coingecko
Bitstamp BTC/USD Weekly Chart
Bitstamp BTC/USD 4-Hour Chart
Binance Futures 50 USDT FREE Voucher: Use this link to register & get 10% off fees and 50 USDT when trading 500 USDT (limited – first 200 sign-ups & exclusive to CryptoPotato).
Click here to start trading on BitMEX and receive 10% discount on fees for 6 months.
Disclaimer: Information found on CryptoPotato is those of writers quoted. It does not represent the opinions of CryptoPotato on whether to buy, sell, or hold any investments. You are advised to conduct your own research before making any investment decisions. Use provided information at your own risk. See Disclaimer for more information.
Cryptocurrency charts by TradingView.
Blockchain1 month ago
Market Wrap: Bitcoin’s Powell-Induced Price Swing; Ethereum Still High on Gas
Blockchain3 weeks ago
Blockchain Bites: Is DeFi an Inside Deal?
Blockchain1 month ago
The US Post Office Files a Patent for a Blockchain-Based Voting System
Blockchain4 months ago
How to Identify the ‘Third Wave’ of Cannabis Investments
Blockchain2 months ago
Wealthfront Lures Millenials With Crypto Memes and Tactics
Blockchain2 months ago
Top Five Most Advanced Cryptocurrencies
Blockchain4 months ago
5 Tips to Interest the Press in Your Cannabis Business
Blockchain3 months ago
Top 5 Most Effective Cannabis Marketing Strategies