KTH-SEECS Applied Information Security Lab

National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST)

Vulnerability Assessment of Bitcoin Architecture

Domain:Cyber Security

 Status: Active

Contact Person(s): Sadia Khalil , Awais Shibli

Virtual/Digital currency is the type of currency which is created and transferred electronically and crypto-currency is one of its type as it uses public key cryptography and hash functions for its security. Bitcoin is the world’s first peer to peer, decentralized crypto currency. It is considered to be the most popular way of achieving open source P2P money. A large number of businesses have started accepting bitcoins e.g WordPress, Baidu, Amazon , Reddit ,VMware, Subway and SoundCloud etc. It operates in cyberspace and requires a special software called Bitcoin wallet to be installed on the client’s computer.  The core of the Bitcoin protocol is the mining process which is meant for verification of transactions and bringing new bitcoins into the system. It involves a Proof-of-work (PoW) mechanism which is based on a complex cryptographic puzzle.

Looking analytically into the Bitcoin protocol, there are certain security issues in the Bitcoin protocol which make Bitcoin transactions a major target of fraudsters. Incidents related to bitcoins being stolen or Bitcoin exchanges being shut down due to various attacks are observed daily. The aim of this thesis is to identify vulnerabilities prevalent to Bitcoin transactions, creating an attack environment and analyzing the outcomes. Moreover, the best possible countermeasures will also be suggested.

Our contribution in this thesis will be to highlight all the possible weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the Bitcoin system, analyze them on TestNet, establish a threat model of the system and suggest latest research and development solutions to benefit  Bitcoin community. Moreover, we aim to suggest security issue sin Bitcoin wallets. As a proof-of-concept , we aim to provide an efficient and secure scheme for their protection.