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Flash Freezing Flash Boys: Countering Blockchain Front-Running

Haoqian Zhang, Louis-Henri Merino, Vero Estrada-Galiñanes, and Bryan Ford

Decentralized Internet, Networks, Protocols, and Systems (DINPS)
Bologna, Italy – July 10, 2022


Front-running, the practice of benefiting from advanced knowledge of pending transactions, has proliferated in the cryptocurrency space with the emergence of decentralized finance. Front-running causes devastating losses to honest participants—estimated at $280M each month—and endangers the fairness of the ecosystem. We present Flash Freezing Flash Boys (F3B), an architecture to address front-running attacks by relying on a commit-and-reveal scheme where the contents of a transaction are encrypted and later revealed by a decentralized secret-management committee (SMC) when the transaction has been committed by the underlying consensus layer. To maintain legacy compatibility, we design F3B to be agnostic to the underlying consensus algorithm and compatible with existing smart contracts. A preliminary exploration of F3B shows that with a secret-management committee consisting of 8 and 128 members, F3B presents between 0.1 and 2.2 second transaction-processing latency, respectively.

Workshop paper: PDF

Presentation slides: PDF PowerPoint

Preprint of full paper: arXiv PDF

Topics: Security Cryptography Blockchain Consensus Bryan Ford