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Frequently asked questions

Here you will find the most frequently asked questions about RSK, its vision, technology and other aspects

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How is the RSK blockchain secured?

RSK blockchain is secured by merge mining, with some additional security measures. The RSK blockchain is mined by the Bitcoin miners, which is the largest and most reliable blockchain network in the world. Currently, more than 35% percent of the Bitcoin hashrate is also merge-mining RSK. On top of this, RSK Labs published an RSKIP that proposes that a set of notaries (some of the most renowned and trusted Bitcoin companies) can provide an extra layer of security by issuing checkpoint notifications on the blockchain. Nodes are not forced to follow the checkpoints, but can use this information to detect network-wide attacks and enter a safe mode. This subsystem sacrifices liveness to increase safety, and can be compared to Bitcoin’s original alert system, but in case of RSK it’s federated, rather than centralized, as in Bitcoin.

What is the 2-Way Peg?

The 2-Way peg is said to be a method to transfer BTC into RBTC and vice-versa. In practice, when BTC are exchanged for RBTC, no currency is “transferred” between blockchains. There is no single transaction that does the job. This is because Bitcoin cannot verify the authenticity of balances on another blockchain. When a user intends to convert BTC to RBTC, some BTC are locked in Bitcoin and the same amount of RBTC is unlocked in RSK. When RBTC needs to be converted back into BTC, the RBTC get locked again in RSK and the same amount of BTC is unlocked in the Bitcoin blockchain. A security protocol ensures that the same Bitcoins cannot be unlocked on both blockchains at the same time. This requires transaction finality, and that’s the reason the peg required hundreds of block confirmations for transactions that unlock BTC or RBTC.

How does the peg work?

When a Bitcoin user wants to use the 2-Way Peg, he sends a transaction to a multisig wallet whose funds are secured by the Federation. The same public key associated with the source bitcoins in this transaction is used on the RSK chain to control the Smart Bitcoins. This means that the private key that controlled the Bitcoins in the Bitcoin blockchain can be used to control an account on the RSK chain. Although both public and private keys are similar, each blockchain encodes the address in a different format. This means that the addresses on both blockchains are different.


What are the differences between a Bitcoin address and an RSK address?

An RSK address is an identifier of 40 hexadecimal characters while the Bitcoin address is an identifier of 26-35 alphanumeric characters.


How does RSK secure the funds locked in the peg?

Currently the funds in the peg are secured by a threshold signature managed by the Federation. At least 51% percent of the Federation members signatures are required to transfer bitcoins out of the peg wallet. The process to unlock bitcoins is controlled by a smart contract running in the RSK blockchain. All coordination actions are open for every user to see.

The original RSK roadmap proposed to add drive-chain support to enhance the security of the funds in the peg. This requires a Bitcoin soft-fork, which may or may not occur. RSK Labs created a BIP and working code to implement this drive-chain in Bitcoin. If Bitcoin soft-forks to support the drivechain BIP RSK proposed, unlocking funds from the peg will also require 51% percent acknowledgement by the merge-mining hashing power. With the hybrid Federation/drivechain proposed by RSK Labs, both the majority of federation members and the merge-miners must acknowledge a release transaction, increasing the overall security of the peg.


How is the RSK blockchain secured from double-spend attacks?

The RSK blockchain is secured by proof-of-work based on SHA256D algorithm like Bitcoin. If all the RSK miners collude, they can censor one or all of RSK transactions but they cannot steal Smart Bitcoins or Bitcoins. Also, RSK miners cannot double-spend, as the Federation provides the checkpointing service, and every Federation member node is highly connected to the RSK network to prevent Sybil attacks. The Federation will use the checkpointing power to prevent reorganizations of high depth which are not related to a protocol fault.  The Federation cannot double-spend, as a Federation member is not allowed to checkpoint two blocks having conflicting transactions.


How is RSK security compared to Bitcoin?

The security of the RSK platform will depend on the amount of merge-mining engagement and the number and quality (security compliance) of the Federation members. More than 40% of the Bitcoin miners are currently merge-mining RSK (as of Dic-2018) and a 30% remaining is planning join merge-mining, so we expect to reach more than 51% of Bitcoin miners to be securing the RSK network soon. Also, in theory, RSK could reach a higher hashrate than Bitcoin, by combining merge-mining hashrates from other bitcoin clones.

How does N confirmations in Bitcoin compare to N confirmations in RSK? Is 6 confirmations enough in RSK as it is in Bitcoin?

A recent paper established that in terms of the transaction reversal probability due to normal statistical variance, 6 Bitcoin confirmations (average 1 hour) would be equivalent to approximately 12 RSK confirmations (average 6 minutes). While Bitcoin has the concept of 0-confirmations (the transaction has been broadcast without Replace-by-fee), there is no similar concept in RSK. The fastest real confirmation in RSK is “1.5” confirmations, or 1 confirmation plus 5 seconds without a block reversal, or an average of 35 seconds.

Is RSK secure from users using blockchain resources (CPU, bandwidth, storage) for free?

The RSK “gas system” prevents an attacker from creating, spreading and including resource-intensive transactions in blocks without paying the associated fees. Every resource, including CPU, bandwidth and storage is accounted by consumption of an amount of gas. Every block has a gas limit, so the resources a block can consume are limited, making a resource exhaustion attack ineffective.

Is RSK secure from miners abusing the gas system to cheaply acquire resources as in Ethereum?

In Ethereum a miner can include transactions specifying zero gas price, thus acquiring persistent contract state memory almost for free (if no transaction backlog). In RSK a high percentage of the transaction fees go into a reward pool for future miners, a small fraction of the transaction fees are burned and there is a minimum gas price negotiated by the miners. Therefore, rogue miners cannot get platform resources at no cost.

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