Decentralization Cheapens Corruptive Majority Attacks

Author Stephen H. Newman

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Stephen H. Newman
  • Princeton University, NJ, USA


Thanks to Matt Weinberg for substantial discussion, feedback, and advice.

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Stephen H. Newman. Decentralization Cheapens Corruptive Majority Attacks. In 5th Conference on Advances in Financial Technologies (AFT 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 282, pp. 13:1-13:19, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


Corruptive majority attacks, in which mining power is distributed among miners and an attacker attempts to bribe a majority of miners into participation in a majority attack, pose a threat to blockchains. Budish bounded the cost of bribing miners to participate in an attack by their expected loss as a result of attack success. We show that this bound is loose. In particular, an attack may be structured so that under equilibrium play by most miners, a miner’s choice to participate only slightly affects the attack success chance. Combined with the fact that most of the cost of attack success is externalized by any given small miner, this implies that if most mining power is controlled by small miners, bribing miners to participate in such an attack is much cheaper than the Budish bound. We provide a scheme for a cheap corruptive majority attack and discuss practical concerns and consequences.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Theory of computation → Algorithmic mechanism design
  • Applied computing → Digital cash
  • Blockchain
  • Majority Attack
  • Corruptive Majority Attack


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