Are TWO Blockchains Better than ONE?
I believe by leveraging two separate blockchains whose confirmations are pegged to one another we may be able to create even more secure blockchain based networks. I am no cryptographer as is evidenced by this proposal. Nevertheless, I am familiar with the fundamental concepts of the bitcoin blockchain, risk aversion and failure modes analysis. Here is why I believe there may be something to this idea.
One of the primary concerns echoed by bitcoin doubters, as well as bitcoin believers, is that of mining centralization. In such a scenario a single entity gains over 50% of mining power. Under these circumstances the entity could theoretically manipulate the blockchain by invalidating or reversing a limited number of transactions for the period of time it was in control. Despite the limited incentives (as such an attack makes no economic sense) and the limited potential impact of such an attack, it nevertheless exposes the network to risk.
A Second Layer of Security
Most bitcoin users should be familiar with the concepts of two-factor authentication (2FA) and multi-signature accounts by now. The idea is simple. A second “factor” of authentication is required to grant access to an account or approve a transaction. By requiring a second factor of authentication the user is safe even if the primary account information (username & password) has been compromised. Without this second piece of information an attacker cannot gain access.
I would imagine this same fundamental principle could be applied to a blockchain. By requiring specific confirmations across two separate blockchains (using the second blockchain as a second factor of authentication) one could add a significantly higher degree of security. In such a scenario, I would also imagine the risk of mining centralization being displaced as any single mining entity would have to control the majority of both blockchains to truly corrupt the network. I’ve provided some initial thoughts/responses specific to some of the issues that become immediately apparent with this proposal:
- How do you incentivize miners to mine the second proposed blockchain? The secondary blockchain could be tokenized in its own right. It might possibly be designed to only allow CPU-based mining (similar to early Vertcoin) so that by its nature is more distributed and would be more difficult to corrupt by a single entity. If this were the case you might have a highly incentivized blockchain with more centralized mining incentives (the Bitcoin Blockchain) and a slightly less incentivized blockchain with more distributed mining incentives (CPU based mining).
- Wouldn’t this delay confirmation times? Most definitely yes, but maybe the added security would be worth it – especially in a future where people are comfortable with 3rd party off-blockchain transactions. Regardless innovation might still be able to move confirmation times down despite the redundancy in blockchains.
- So how would this actually work? Like I said – I’m not a cryptographer so I have no freakin’ idea.
Despite my inability to define the technicalities of how this might be accomplished, I feel there could still be potential to this concept. Just like the 2FA set on many of our smartphones, the secondary code / password itself doesn’t have to be anywhere near as strong as the initial password to exponentially increase the degree of security.
I would imagine a secondary blockchain, even if it were far smaller, could provide an additional layer of confirmation periodically (or constantly) that re-enforces the activities of the first. In fact this second blockchain could be dramatically more distributed by design — solving the potential risk of centralized mining on the first.
Would love to have an actual cryptographer / blockchain expert confirm if I’m just a crazy person… which I’m estimating I’m 98% at risk of being.