TxProbe: Discovering Bitcoin’s Network Topology Using Orphan Transactions

Sergi Delgado-Segura, Surya Bakshi, Cristina Pérez-Solà, James Litton, Andrew Pachulski, Andrew Miller, Bobby Bhattacharjee

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Bitcoin relies on a peer-to-peer overlay network to broadcast transactions and blocks. From the viewpoint of network measurement, we would like to observe this topology so we can characterize its performance, fairness and robustness. However, this is difficult because Bitcoin is deliberately designed to hide its topology from onlookers. Knowledge of the topology is not in itself a vulnerability, although it could conceivably help an attacker performing targeted eclipse attacks or to deanonymize transaction senders. In this paper we present TxProbe, a novel technique for reconstructing the Bitcoin network topology. TxProbe makes use of peculiarities in how Bitcoin processes out of order, or “orphaned” transactions. We conducted experiments on Bitcoin testnet that suggest our technique reconstructs topology with precision and recall surpassing 90%. We also used TxProbe to take a snapshot of the Bitcoin testnet in just a few hours. TxProbe may be useful for future measurement campaigns of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFinancial Cryptography and Data Security - 23rd International Conference, FC 2019, Revised Selected Papers
EditorsIan Goldberg, Tyler Moore
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9783030321000
StatePublished - 2019
Event23rd International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security, FC 2019 - St. Kitts, Saint Kitts and Nevis
Duration: Feb 18 2019Feb 22 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11598 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference23rd International Conference on Financial Cryptography and Data Security, FC 2019
Country/TerritorySaint Kitts and Nevis
CitySt. Kitts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


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