Ethna: Analyzing the Underlying Peer-to-Peer Network of the Ethereum Blockchain

10/03/2020
by   Taotao Wang, et al.
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As the communication infrastructure of the blockchain system, the underlying peer-to-peer (P2P) network has a crucial impact on the efficiency and security of the upper-layer blockchain such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, current Ethereum blockchain explorers (e.g., the Etherscan) focus on the tracking of block and transaction records but omit the characterization of the underlying P2P network. This work presents the Ethereum Network Analyzer (Ethna), a tool that probes and analyzes the P2P network of the Ethereum blockchain. Unlike Bitcoin that adopts an unstructured P2P network, Ethereum relies on the Kademlia DHT to manage its P2P network. Therefore, the existing analyzing methods proposed for Bitcoin-like P2P networks are not applicable to Ethereum. In Ethna, we implement a novel method that can accurately measures the degrees of Ethereum nodes; moreover, we design an algorithm that derives the latency metrics of the message dissemination in the Ethereum network. We run Ethna on the Ethereum Mainnet and conduct extensive experiments to analyze the topological features of its P2P network. Our analysis shows that the Ethereum P2P network conforms to the small-world property, and the degrees of nodes follow a power-law distribution that characterizes scale-free networks.

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