Improving Monero: Dandelion++

Sep 5, 2019
Monero Homepage

Monero may be the best choice for any privacy-focused cryptocurrency user, yet there is always room for improvement. That is why the developers are currently working to integrate a new gossip-like protocol initially proposed for Bitcoin. Moreover, the seeds to even more anonymity have been sown with the implementation of Tor feature in the Monero wallet.

The future looks indeed secure & private as we’ll discuss in the next several minutes.

Tor & I2P For Monero Wallet

Tor Browser

Currently, Monero wallet supports both Tor and I2P (Invisible Internet Project) anonymous networks, which means the user can broadcast his transaction only on those particular networks, without leaking the ISP or IP to anyone listening.

Interestingly enough, there is a failsafe mechanism in case no nodes on Tor or I2P are found. The transaction will be delayed and only be broadcast when a secure anonymous connection is made.

Tor-relaying is quite a new experimental feature introduced earlier this year and, like I2P, may still pose some privacy limitations related to timestamps, intermittent Monero syncing, or active bandwidth shaping.

In addition, if a user makes frequent transactions using one of the two anonymous networks, it is likely some leakages will still happen that could eventually expose the identity of the user.

Introducing Dandelion++

Laptop Privacy Display

To further increase the privacy and truly make Monero bulletproof, developers may elect to implement the Dandelion++ gossip protocol initially proposed for the granddaddy of all cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin. Gossip is the mechanism that describes how a given transaction is propagated through the network.

Traditionally, once a transaction reaches a node, that particular node propagates it to its peers (the nodes it is connected to). The peers will subsequently propagate the transaction to their own connected nodes triggering a chain reaction on the blockchain. In a matter of minutes, most (if not all) nodes will know about the transaction. To further make the transaction anonymous, neat tricks may be used like random delay broadcasting. This isn’t enough though for complete anonymity.

Dandelion rethought the gossip mechanism and broke it down into two distinct phases.

The Stem phase uses an algorithm that randomizes the propagation: instead of propagating a transaction to the connected peers, the algorithm chooses a random node that will receive the data. The random node will also use the same algorithm and propagate to some other random node & so on until a given amount of nodes have received the data.

Once the fluff phase is triggered, the blockchain goes back to the traditional gossip mechanism with some much-needed delays.

Dandelion++ revamped the Stem phase that now uses intertwined paths known as cables that leave even more room for interpretation in terms of who really sent the transaction.

Moving Closer To Dandelion++ On Monero

The Monero developers are already trying to take the necessary steps to make the number one privacy cryptocurrency compatible with the innovative ‘gossip’ protocol.

They are already working at adding ‘white noise’ to the peer-to-peer connections for more privacy & broadcasting new transactions over anonymous networks first, according to a recent Github pull request.

Stay tuned for more updates on Monero.

What do you think of the Dandelion++ implementation on Monero? Can it help take privacy to a whole new level? Be sure to leave a comment below!

Images courtesy of & Flickr.


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