ln software backdoor

Does Lightning really have a “backdoor” that could compromise the network?

26th October, 2023

Recently, a new debate shook the community of bitcoiners on social networks in particular, concerning the possibility of a security breach on the Lightning network.

The developer Antoine Riard at the origin of the debate had published a tweet in which he declared the presence of a vulnerability in layer 2, which could be dramatic if it was not resolved.

After hundreds of questions and answers on this flaw, Antoine Riard later clarified that this vulnerability is not an intentional “backdoor” (see “backdoor" in computer science).

Remember that a backdoor is a functionality unknown to the user of a software which nevertheless gives secret access to the latter. This is the bane of all software, especially those that are supposed to protect user privacy.

A vulnerability in Lightning Network?

The developer of Lightning Network clarified his first message by saying that his tweet had been overinterpreted and that few critics had been able to understand what it was really about. He strongly rejected the idea that had been circulating that he had maliciously exposed the flaw so that people with bad intentions could exploit it. He also added avenues to resolve the problem raised in his text. In addition, he specifies in his last email that this alleged flaw in no way calls into question the competence or know-how of the community of bitcoin and Lightning developers.

He also specifies that potential attacks that could exploit this flaw would be extremely sophisticated to implement, while people relayed the information immediately saying that the entire Bitcoin network would be in danger. It's wrong. This backdoor would require significant deployment to develop and very detailed knowledge of the use of the peer-to-peer network without the bitcoin network itself being really affected.

Antoine Riard then calls for more responsibility on the part of the specialized and general public media. He calls for “responsible journalism” regarding the dissemination of sensitive information of this type. He recalled that this vulnerability was in fact well known since 2022 and that it was important that the media show more responsibility in the processing of information and that they stop relaying information to engage in traffic.

His words on the subject are very clear: “If you are a journalist covering information in mainstream crypto publications, I suggest you wait for the opinion of expert journalists in the Bitcoin community, who have better knowledge of the subject and having the necessary perspective” to understand this type of problem.

He regrets that the spread of misinterpretations and errors by the media ultimately hindered the community's ability to seriously and deeply discuss solutions to resolve this problem in a “responsible and constructive” manner.

Backdoor resolution

This debate has reopened many opinions and criticisms about Lighting. For some media or companies, the Lightning wallet, despite its advantages, should not be used due to the problems it brings to the main bitcoin network. Thus, the communications team of account Samourai Wallet said that “the only change needed at the base level should be to permanently and irrevocably send the Lightning Network to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.” For them, very clearly, the Lightning Network should not exist.

This is a radical position to say the least and explains why the wallet is not compatible with the Lightning Network. They are at least consistent in their words, we want to say.

Other people have posted rather positive reactions, insisting that the issues raised make it possible to correct and strengthen the Bitcoin protocol.

Indeed, bitcoin is open source software and the discoveries of bugs, backdoors, vulnerabilities and the scalability of Bitcoin In reality, they enable the security and operation of the network to be increasingly strengthened. In short, it is a good thing for the Bitcoin ecosystem in general.

For now, Payments on the Lightning Network are growing exponentially and the trend is not ready to stop...

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