Proof of participation and its functions in securing the blockchain

Blockchain security issue is an endlessly fascinating discussion subject. Decentralized networks are ever-evolving and their adoption is not yet mainstream so it is still kind of new; this fact explains why a lot of people are still unfamiliar with blockchain security issues.

Decentralized systems pose security issues that are different from centralized ones. Transactions in decentralized systems are not governed and controlled under just one single authority, with each node (or participating computer) in the network holding equal amounts of power to the rest. 

The idea of all parties involved holding equal amounts of power in the network sounds good, yet the “democratic” nature of a decentralized network has made blockchain security issues messier than those in the centralized systems. 

But maybe they look messier simply because the public is still unfamiliar, so as to how it works. Due to its decentralized nature, blockchain applies some really specific security measures to authenticate the identities of parties involved in it, validate transactions and keep hackers at bay.

The proof of participation

One of these security measures is called the proof of participation, which measures the rate of activities among all the nodes in the blockchain to ensure that all transactions conducted in the blockchain are genuine. The proof of participation also ensures that all miners (those who have created blocks or records of transactions which occur simultaneously in the network) have arrived at a consensus. 

In order to accomplish the functions mentioned above, the proof of participation assesses the amount of blocks and transactions propagated by these miners. These blocks and transactions also have to contribute to the well-being and integrity of the blockchain. 

Comparison with other consensus mechanics

In our previous blog post, we have discussed three best-known consensus mechanics applied to blockchain security: proof of work (PoW), proof of stake (PoS) and proof of capacity (PoC). They maintain transaction and information security for all network participants by identifying the fastest nodes to complete transactions, involving a blockchain account which controls the majority of funds in the network, as well as allowing constant supervision of public ledger, respectively. 

You can see how proof of participation works differently from the other three consensus mechanics.

Applying proof of participation to safeguard blockchain security

The proof of participation can be used to prevent the chance of what is called “a 51 percent attack”, in which nodes in the peer-to-peer network (usually run by hackers) control more than half the network’s mining computing power, which can compromise the integrity of the blockchain.

The most famous consequence of the 51 percent attack is dubbed the “double spending” phenomenon whereby a hacker spends cryptocurrency without having the amount deducted from the hacker’s account. This is done by compromising the transaction protocol of a particular blockchain. So, although the seller has shifted the ownership status of the purchased goods to the buyer because the faux transaction somehow gets validated, the payment never gets transferred to them, resulting in losses.

In this manner, proof of participation shares a function with PoW and PoS.

Yet, unlike PoW and PoS, the proof of participation helps slow down chain attacks. With the proof of participation in place, an attacker which makes the highest bid every single day can only acquire limited amounts of new nodes a day.  The attackers also cannot purchase existing nodes as they won’t be able to change their account address into that of a registered node.

By extending the time with which these attackers gain control of the network, the proof of participation allows for the node registrars to strategize so as to how to bolster the network’s strength against the attack.

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