Inside Stratum V2: Solving Hashrate Theft and Other Benefits for Miners

The developers of the new version of the Stratum V2 protocol talked about the advantages of the protocol for miners and what problems the technology can solve for large pools and private miners. Bitcoin's resilience to change is one of its most important functions in becoming a reliable store of value.. However, users have to be quite patient when it comes to key updates such as Schnorr and Taproot signatures, as they take years to roll out safely. When it comes to mining, things are a little different. Change does not happen overnight, but miners who do not adapt and keep abreast of the industry are likely to be left behind sooner or later.. Over the past year, the hash rate of the Bitcoin network has increased by almost 200%. This means that mining industry players are actively competing with each other and trying to find ways to keep up. Mining remains the least explored area of the Bitcoin ecosystem. After the publication of the Stratum V2 documentation and specification, it became clear that Bitcoin users and miners have a different approach to evaluating the new version of the protocol.. While bitcoiners were mainly looking at improvements in decentralization, miners were interested in other changes, many of which could actually increase the popularity of bitcoin in the short term. Mining Development When the world's oldest mining pool, Slush Pool, mined its first block in 2010, most of the blocks were mined on the personal computers of enthusiasts in North America and Europe. Today, a single new generation ASIC provides about 700 times more hashing power than all miners of that time. Mining technology has come a long way, along with the business side of the industry, from a lack of competition per se, the ecosystem has moved to an active struggle for supremacy among producers and pools. Today's miners tend to be more focused on the bottom line than supporting the fundamental principles of Bitcoin.. This is not to say that there are no thought-driven miners who care about the success of Bitcoin in general – there are still many of them.. However, people running large mining farms with hundreds of petaesh cannot be expected to switch to the Stratum V2 protocol just because it improves decentralization. If Stratum V2 is not capable of impacting a miner's bottom line, it is likely that companies will not switch to it.. A business has two ways to increase net income: increase revenue or reduce costs. So what could motivate the most business-oriented and least ideologically committed miners to start implementing Stratum V2? Hashrate Theft Problem The Stratum V1 protocol version has a serious security flaw: it is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks.. The worst case scenario for such an attack is hashrate theft, where a malicious third party can steal a miner's work before it reaches the target pool, thus earning a reward for themselves. Even worse for miners, an attacker is able to steal hashrate completely unnoticed.. If the attacker is smart and stealthy, he can only steal 1% or 2% of the hashrate. This is enough to affect the profit of the miner, but not enough for the miner to notice the attack. This vulnerability has been fixed in Stratum V2.. Connections between miners and pools are encrypted using AEAD, a block cipher mode that protects the integrity of data transfers. The developers of the protocol have repeatedly received reports from miners from China, Kazakhstan, Russia and Europe who suspect hashrate theft.. The sheer risk of hashrate theft is a strong incentive for businesses to move to Stratum V2 and start encrypting their messages.. The fact that hashrate theft can go unnoticed for a long period of time makes the issue an important one for everyone. Improving Efficiency Reduces Overhead Managing a mining pool with a global customer base is not the cheapest venture. It is required to staff a qualified development team and maintain geographically distributed servers in close proximity to as many pool client capacities as possible. Pools process millions of data packets daily over tens of thousands of individual physical connections. Stratum V2 reduces both the size and amount of data transferred. In other words, it makes pool maintenance easier and more affordable. As far as real miners are concerned, efficiency gains may not be as strong an incentive for some as they are for others.. Many miners pay a fixed price for hosting their devices, which includes the cost of the internet infrastructure and data used to communicate with the pools.. However, there are many other miners located in extremely remote places where traffic is expensive and bandwidth is limited.. For them, switching to a new version of the protocol can lead to significant efficiency gains. Moreover, the multiplexing feature in Stratum V2 allows miners to mine multiple coins on a single connection.. Miners can more efficiently switch between coins to increase profits (for example, between BTC, BCH and BSV) or even send hashrate to multiple pools at the same time over a single connection. Finally, the simplified mining mode for ASICs gives miners the ability to avoid processing the full merkle tree path by simplifying firmware and validation for pools.. Such mining simplifies the management of large farms, optimizes future protocol upgrades, and results in lower hashrate variance for miners.. Ultimately, end-miners benefit from implementing Stratum V2 in the following ways: Less complex set-up and start-up of mining Reduced internet infrastructure costs Add more complex use cases that can increase revenue and/or reduce costs Full implementation in BOSminer simplifies Stratum V2 implementation Braiins, manages Slush Pool and develops the Stratum protocol, also creates firmware for ASIC miners. This allows developers to create a full implementation of Stratum V2 in the open source BOSminer firmware component, which will be free for the entire Bitcoin mining community. In addition, Braiins has developed proxy servers to convert Stratum V2 to Stratum V1 and vice versa. This means that miners can use V2 when mining in a pool that does not support it, and that pools can implement V2 without forcing their miners to use it. Thus, miners who want to use Stratum V2 do not have to solve protocol implementation problems on their own.. Instead, they can simply replace CGminer with BOSminer in the firmware of their devices. This greatly reduces the cost of migrating to Stratum V2, which may be enough to attract a large group of miners. Stratum V2 was designed to solve as many industry problems as possible, and the developers are confident that it will make life easier for almost everyone. Rolling out a new version of the protocol will help prevent hashrate theft, increase mining efficiency while reducing overhead, and also ensure ease of switching between coins, thanks to a complete implementation of an open source firmware available to everyone. It is important to note that the final version of the specification has not yet been released and Stratum V2 cannot be considered a finished product at the moment. However, the developers continue to work on the protocol and soon the final specifications will be available to everyone.