Protocol Labs Research
2023-08-14 / Conference paper
Security analysis of Filecoin's Expected Consensus in the Byzantine vs honest model
AFT 2023 / 2023.10.23 / Princeton, NJ, USA


Filecoin is the largest storage-based open-source blockchain, both by storage capacity (>11EiB) and market capitalization. This paper provides the first formal security analysis of Filecoin’s consensus (ordering) protocol, Expected Consensus (EC). Specifically, we show that EC is secure against an arbitrary adversary that controls a fraction β of the total storage for βm<1−e−(1−β)m, where m is a parameter that corresponds to the expected number of blocks per round, currently m=5 in Filecoin. We then present an attack, the n-split attack, where an adversary splits the honest miners between multiple chains, and show that it is successful for βm≥1−e−(1−β)m, thus proving that βm=1−e−(1−β)m is the tight security threshold of EC. This corresponds roughly to an adversary with 20% of the total storage pledged to the chain. Finally, we propose two improvements to EC security that would increase this threshold. One of these two fixes is being implemented as a Filecoin Improvement Proposal (FIP).