Protocol Labs Research
2022-12-13 / Conference paper
Pikachu: Securing PoS blockchains from long-range attacks by checkpointing into Bitcoin PoW using Taproot
ConsensusDay 22 / 2022.11.07 / Los Angeles, CA, USA


Blockchain systems based on a reusable resource, such as proof-of-stake (PoS), provide weaker security guarantees than those based on proof-of-work. Specifically, they are vulnerable to long-range attacks, where an adversary can corrupt prior participants in order to rewrite the full history of the chain. To prevent this attack on a PoS chain, we propose a protocol that checkpoints the state of the PoS chain to a proof-of-work blockchain such as Bitcoin. Our checkpointing protocol hence does not rely on any central authority. Our work uses Schnorr signatures and leverages Bitcoin recent Taproot upgrade, allowing us to create a checkpointing transaction of constant size. We argue for the security of our protocol and present an open-source implementation that was tested on the Bitcoin testnet.