Bitcoin’s Lightning network has added the “blind routes” feature to the list of specifications under review and approval. This tool allows a network node to send payments through one or more routes without revealing the identity of the recipient or the full route to the rest of the network.
The author of the proposal, known by the pseudonym t-bast, announced on Twitter that it had been added to the Lightning Network master repository under BOLT 4. BOLTs are the “foundations of Lightning technology” and specify the operation of the bitcoin (BTC) instant payment network.
The primary benefit of using BOLTs is increased privacy. This is achieved by routing a payment generated by an invoice through the Lightning Network. That is, by sending a transaction that “travels” through various payment nodes and channels.
Blind Routing hides the last part of a transaction’s path and isolates the information that is available to those involved, including the nodes that are transmitting.
Without the use of this tool, the sender is able to know which nodes a transaction will pass through until it reaches the final receiver, which of course the receiver also knows. Along the way, the recipient’s public key is visible to all nodes routing the payment.
On the other hand, in a blind route, each node can only see the information of the previous node or the next node. However, they are not able to identify the entire route or the final recipient, as was previously the case.
Blind routes, a long-standing privacy concern in the Lightning network
In short, the blind routes feature allows payments over the Lightning network to be more private and secure.
Olaoluwa Osuntokun, a lightning network developer once stated:
“Blind routes solve the privacy problem at the node level by replacing hop hints with a cryptographically obfuscated route. At a high level, the receiver can construct a route of one or more hops [hop hints, hops between nodes], collect the public keys for each node, and then obfuscate them so that the sender of the payment uses them to find his route, but doesn’t really know how many nodes or hops are part of it.”Olaoluwa Osuntukun, Lightning Developer.
As mentioned above, the idea presented to the public by t-bast in 2020 has already been incorporated into the master repository of the Lightning network on Github. Now, as the developer himself commented on Twitter, all that remains is for it to be incorporated into the various implementations that allow bitcoin users to use the network.
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