Private Proof-of-Stake Blockchains using Differentially-Private Stake Distortion


Chenghong Wang, David Pujol, Kartik Nayak, and Ashwin Machanavajjhala, Duke University


Safety, liveness, and privacy are three critical properties for any private proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain. However, prior work (SP'21) has shown that to obtain safety and liveness, a PoS blockchain must in theory forgo privacy. In particular, to obtain safety and liveness, PoS blockchains elect parties proportional to their stake, which, in turn, can potentially reveal the stake of a party even if the transaction processing mechanism is private.

In this work, we make two key contributions. First, we present the first stake inference attack that can be actually run in practice. Specifically, our attack applies to both deterministic and randomized PoS protocols and has exponentially lesser running time in comparison with the SOTA approach. Second, we use differentially private stake distortion to achieve privacy in PoS blockchains. We formulate certain privacy requirements to achieve transaction and stake privacy, and design two stake distortion mechanisms that any PoS protocol can use. Moreover, we analyze our proposed mechanisms with Ethereum 2.0, a well-known PoS blockchain that is already operating in practice. The results indicate that our mechanisms mitigate stake inference risks and, at the same time, provide reasonable privacy while preserving required safety and liveness properties.

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@inproceedings {291035,
author = {Chenghong Wang and David Pujol and Kartik Nayak and Ashwin Machanavajjhala},
title = {Private {Proof-of-Stake} Blockchains using {Differentially-Private} Stake Distortion},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {1577--1594},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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