Contra-∗: Mechanisms for countering spam attacks on blockchain's memory pools

Muhammad Saad, Joongheon Kim, Dae Hun Nyang, David Mohaisen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, have seen on the rise in their popularity and value, making them a target to several forms of Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks, and calling for a better understanding of their attack surface from both security and distributed systems standpoints. In this paper, and in the pursuit of understanding the attack surface of blockchains, we explore a new form of attack that can be carried out on the memory pools (mempools), and mainly targets blockchain-based cryptocurrencies. We study this attack on Bitcoin's mempool and explore the attack's effects on transactions fee paid by benign users. To counter this attack, this paper further proposes Contra-∗, a set of countermeasures utilizing fee, age, and size (thus, Contra-F, Contra-A, and Contra-S) as prioritization mechanisms. Contra-∗ optimize the mempool size and help in countering the effects of DoS attacks due to spam transactions. We evaluate Contra-∗ by simulations and analyze their effectiveness under various attack conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102971
JournalJournal of Network and Computer Applications
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Blockchains
  • DDoS attacks
  • Memory pool


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