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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?

The RSK blockchain is secured by merge-mining, with some additional security measures. The RSK blockchain is mined by the Bitcoin miners, which are part of the largest and most reliable blockchain network in the world. Currently, more than 35% percent of the Bitcoin hash rate is simultaneously merge-mining RSK. On top of this, RSK Labs has published a RSKIP that proposes a solution where a set of notaries (some of the most renowned and trusted Bitcoin companies) will be able to provide an extra layer of security by issuing checkpoint notifications on the RSK blockchain. RSK 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. In the case of RSK, the system is federated, rather than centralized, as in the case of the Bitcoin network.

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 the two blockchains. There is no single transaction that does the job. This is because Bitcoin miners cannot verify the authenticity of balances on another blockchain. When a user intends to convert BTC to RBTC, some BTC are locked in the Bitcoin blockchain and the same amount of RBTC is unlocked in RSK blockchain. When RBTC needs to be converted back into BTC, the RBTC get locked again in the RSK blockchain 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 RBTC or Bitcoins.

How does the security of RSK network compare to Bitcoin?

The security of the RSK network 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 Dec-2018) and another 30% are planning to merge-mine in the future, so there is an expectation that more than 51% of Bitcoin miners will be securing the RSK network soon. Furthermore, the RSK network could theoretically reach a higher hash rate than Bitcoin, by combining merge-mining hash rates from other bitcoin clones.

How do confirmations on the Bitcoin blockchain compare to confirmations on the RSK blockchain? Are 6 confirmations on the RSK platform sufficient for a transaction to be considered confirmed?

A recent paper established that in the context of transaction reversal probability, 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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