A summary of the HoneyBadger conference
Trustlessness, Scalability, and Directions in Security Models
This the first technical talk core contributor Matt Corallo. The talk was about the different usability models of Bitcoin from a scalability point of view, as blockchain is not scalable in its own sense, multiple trade-offs can be made to make it more scalable. Such trade-offs always include relaxing the trust model, for example, a user only interested in transacting Bitcoin without verifying the transactions can use a centralized wallet provider like Coinbase. These wallet providers make a better User interface and can allow for better scalability by aggregating users’ transactions, while users interested in verifying their transactions should at least use an SPV wallet to do so.
Relaxing the trust model can also be done on a blockchain wide way like giving up decentralization for faster transactions like in other Altcoin chains.
The future of smart contracts
A talk about the future of smart contracts by Max Keidun at HodlHodl focused on Multisig payments. They argued that Multisig payments are currently available, and they have been for quite some time, but they are not user friendly and any regular Bitcoin user couldn’t handle using them right now, as such, the future here is making Multisig payments friendly enough for the regular Bitcoin user. They also announced a Bitcoin OTC market using Multisig payments and a Futures market to be able to bet in Bitcoin on future events.
The future of bitcoin wallets
A panel on the future of Bitcoin wallets was conducted by Giacomo Zucco with Pavol Rusnak & Lawrence Nahum. They talked about how the current mobile wallets are being censored by stores like the Apple store and the Google Play store, how we can get past that for regular non-geek users by using other stores for Android (BTW recommends F-Droid, microg and Magisk). They also talked about the promises of combining hardware wallets with other future tech coming to Bitcoin, supposedly, Trezor is currently working on having Lightning Network on its hardware wallet but this could come with several challenges like a proper user experience and security concerns. Hardware wallets are also working on a replacement of the BIP 49 protocol, replacing the 24 secret words with splits of a Shamir Secret Sharing Scheme(SLIP-0039), allowing users to get control of their wallets without necessarily holding all of the secret words.
Present and future tech challenges in Bitcoin
Another panel on the present and future challenges of Bitcoin by Adam Back and Peter Todd. The challenges ranged from getting new developers on board to avoid coding bugs like the CVE-2018-17144 bug that has been discovered recently, to making Bitcoin yet more private and more secure than it currently is. Making Bitcoin as accessible as something like PayPal or banks and allowing even the most non-technical users to transact in Bitcoin is challenge in itself.
There was also talks on future technologies like Schnorr Signatures, Layers of modularity provided by Lightning network’s different implementations and the use of sidechains to allow smart contracts on the Bitcoin.
The Future of Lightning Network
The last talk of the day was about Lightning Network and its applications for the past year, by Elizabeth Stark. This has been an eventful year for Lightning as it witnessed its Mainnet release, several applications have started showing up like a website for micro tasks, vending machines, point of sale shops and various other applications. There has also been major updates in the technical side with multiple Lighting network implementations, support for mobile wallets and pre-synced nodes like the one from Casa, there was also an array of events for Lightning worldwide specially the Lightning hacks day in Berlin where there was a candy dispenser working with Lightning.
Future Lightning tech includes Atomic MultiPath Payments (AMP), which chops up your payments into several smaller payments. Splicing, which allows Lightning channels to be “topped up” with funds or have funds drained from them. These all aim into allowing Lightning to have more liquidity once it is ready for it.
On the second day, a Bitcoin development panel was held, four of the Bitcoin core developers talked about the recent CVE bug and how many systems failed at once, they talked about the way these can be fixed in the future. They also talked about the things they are working on like getting the blockchain to sync faster, Eric Voskuil, a developer for libbitcoin, said that they are working on a new parallel syncing technology that could get the blockchain to sync in almost an hour. Other developers are also working on making the serialization of Bitcoin data to pass between hardware wallets. They’re also working on optimizing the stratum protocol for mining, or finding a new one altogether, as the stratum protocol is old and probably rusty.
The B Foundation announcement
The next announcement was the announcement of TheB foundation, its a foundation aimed at making Bitcoin more comfortable for developers, merchants, holders, spenders and anyone else in between. It aims at matching donors to projects working with Bitcoin so it can enable developers to get payments to support whatever project they are working on including Bitcoin R&D projects like Cold Storage, RGB and Sidechains, donations to Scholarships for developers to go to events and courses.
The foundation will run from Liechtenstein and will include a board of non-paid Bitcoin-savvy members like Jameson Lopp, Adam Back, Elizabeth Stark and others, the donations will come from early Bitcoin supporters, Bitcoin buisnesses, and will not be available for state-run funds. Priorities include setting up the project management and workflow, training more Bitcoin developers, creating better UX, marketing Bitcoin and helping R&D projects.
The next panel was about Bitcoin security, developers from Casa, Trezor and others talked about the risks of keeping Bitcoin Private keys and how a lot of coins were lost due to ill keeping.
They agreed that losing the private keys is much more probable than them being stolen from a single user, hardware wallets are trying to make this risk smaller, while the risk of stolen private keys is less, there are ways to combat it, mainly by using multisig wallets with hardware wallets, adding more things to steal before someone can access the coins.
Hardware wallet vendors are also fighting supply chain attack vectors where if some malicious party can access your hardware before you and replace the components or tamper with the software, you might risk losing your coins to them.
Cyphernode: building Bitcoin applications without trusted third parties
The next announcement was Cyphernode, it’s an open-sourced self-hosted API which allows you to spawn and call your encrypted overlay network of dockerized Bitcoin and crypto software projects. It is an alternative to commercial Bitcoin APIs and can be used along with your Bitcoin and Lightning nodes to build different enterprise-grade Bitcoin applications and services, it can be run on multiple Raspberry Pis with very minimal computational power and it allows and encourages hardware wallets for key generation and signing.
In the closing panel there was a lot of discussion about the future economy of Bitcoin, how it is going to change in the next few years and how government resistance will affect it.