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New generation of lightweight Bitcoin nodes about to be born: more secure and private

Key facts:

The Bitcoin thin client operates independently, without enabling third-party applications.

It integrates into mobile devices and syncs with the entire chain.

The infrastructure that underpins Bitcoin is moving down a path that makes it easier for anyone to operate. This is the path that developer Alexis Sellier travels, who has brought to light the project he is working on. It is a lightweight Bitcoin node capable of running on mobile devices with the same security and privacy that full nodes offer.

The full nodes of Bitcoin act as financial security systems, validating the transactions of the blockchain of the first of the cryptocurrencies and protecting users from being deceived by someone who makes them believe that they have received money, when in fact it is not So. But they take up a lot of computing space and their size is growing rapidly as the registry of their blockchain weighs more than 300 gigabytes, after having marked a growth of almost 25% during 2020.

Since these nodes are the most “reliable” way to use Bitcoin, developers have long tried to make it easier to use. This is what led Sellier to work on a project that offers the ease of running on any platform, whether mobile or desktop. without sacrificing user privacy or security.

The newsletter of the Bitcoin Trading Technology Group (Bitcoin Optech) published this week reports on the launch of Nakamoto, the thin client developed by Sellier with easy integration with mobile applications. This is because it is written in Rust, but has an external function interface that makes it easy to link with programs based on other programming languages ​​such as Python, Java or Swift.

The project is only in its early stages of development, so it still has a long way to go before users can start using it with the idea of ​​setting their flag of financial self-sovereignty. But, it appears to be the first embryo of a new generation of light nodes. For now, it is available in its first version with only basic functionalities, as Sellier points out in its technical description.

A lightweight and private Bitcoin node

The lightweight nodes are capable of reducing the size of the Bitcoin chain’s transaction history to just 2 gigabytes, roughly the size needed to store a movie. They operate under the Simplified Payment Verification procedure (SPV) that does not require as much compute storage space as a full node.

However, SPV nodes do not preserve user privacy as well and are more susceptible to attack than full nodes. This is precisely where the Nakamoto project is presented as an initiative that can make a difference with other options available today. Their proposal is based on the BIP157 protocol, which overcomes many of the problems that today’s thin clients present.

Developer Alexis Sellier has come up with a project that can become a really working product. However, he still has a lot of work ahead of him. Source: Anthony Shkraba / pexels.com

What makes a Bitcoin node lightweight is that they minimize the amount of bandwidth, storage space, and computation required to operate. To achieve this, they only download a fraction of the Bitcoin blockchain and work without checking the validity of all the blocks on the longest chain. To solve it, Nakamoto enables compact blocks that allow you to securely sync the chain full block without requiring more storage space or relying on a trusted source.

This way it runs under the SPV procedure, but with the ability to effectively detect malicious or faulty peers which serve invalid filters, as full nodes do. In addition, it allows privacy to improve because the blocks can be downloaded from any source, so that no peer gets complete information about the data required by a customer.

Lightweight but safe

Security is the other element that Nakamoto relies on. On this, Sellier comments that one of his concerns is that attacks directed at applications that tend to integrate with nodes are one of the most obvious vectors. Therefore, your project is based on Two simple principles: it limits third-party intervention and is easy to audit.

Less code equals fewer bugs and less to audit. Fewer dependencies equates to fewer moving parts and potential safety risks. The second point is especially important because dependencies are much more difficult to trace than the internal code of the library. Third-party code often ends up changing hands, and while you can trust the original maintainer, you can’t trust who comes next.

Alexis Sellier, developer of Nakamoto, new Bitcoin thin client.

In the route of alternatives that are being developed to improve the usability of the most popular cryptocurrency on the market, there is also Umbrel, an application that allows you to run a Bitcoin node and in turn integrate other functionalities.

As reported by CriptoNoticias recently, the new version of Umbrel brings with it the possibility of installing the Samourai server, developed exclusively by the renowned privacy-focused Bitcoin wallet application.