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Validating Lightning Signer Separates Keys From Nodes

The team at Sphinx is utilizing the Validating Lightning Signer architecture to split up the keys from the Lightning node utilizing a dedicated signing device.

The team at Sphinx is utilizing the Validating Lightning Signer architecture to split up the keys from the Lightning node utilizing a dedicated signing device.

The below is really a direct excerpt of Marty’s Bent Issue #1264: “Dont underestimate human creativity.” Join the newsletter here.


It’s true what people say: Bear markets are for building. Here is a shining exemplory case of that via the Sphinx team showing that their Lightning node is leveraging the Validating Lightning Signer architecture, which separates the keys from the Lightning node utilizing a dedicated signing device. That’s what’s pictured above: the tiny device going out of the wall outlet.

“Why the hell does this matter?” Excellent question, freak. Until this aspect (well really earlier this season when Nodl arrived making use of their Nodlito project), owning a Lightning Network node is a very cumbersome process because of the dependence on 100% uptime to facilitate payments. This dependence on uptime has pushed many enterprise-level Lightning users to perform their nodes in the cloud using server farms that may meet up with the uptime demands. It is a bit worrisome since it results in these Lightning nodes being somewhat of sitting ducks. Because it has been common practice around this point to accommodate the node and the keys that grant users usage of their Lightning channels in exactly the same hardware, it might be trivial for a motivated attacker to recognize and confiscate dedicated Lightning hardware sitting in server farms around the world, effectively allowing the attacker to confiscate a user’s bitcoin.

Enter schemes like Nodlito and Validating Lightning Signer, which bring a fresh method of doing what to the market. Rather than housing the keys and the node in exactly the same hardware, thus developing a central point of failure, these projects try to equip users with the methods to separate both functions and present those users back full control of these bitcoin by ensuring they are able to physically possess their keys using dedicated hardware that communicates with the node running in the cloud. Yes, the hardware running the node at a specific server farm could be shut off, however the user will still have their keys and, therefore, usage of their bitcoin.

Here’s the way the architecture for the Validating Lightning Signer looks:

If this sort of Lightning node setup becomes commonplace, it might really start the doors for more people to take part in building out the network without needing to be worried about running their very own node hardware. Obviously, probably the most sovereign solution to take part in the Lightning Network is always to run your personal node, however the uptime demand to become a legitimate node operator prevents a substantial amount of folks from participating fully. It appears to me that is really a decent tradeoff to obtain additional people running their node software in the cloud. Yes, those cloud providers are centralized entities. However, in case you are in a position to hold your keys, it is possible to operate with the reassurance that you will have access to your cash. Sufficient reason for more freedom-focused cloud providers like Nodl arriving at market, your options open to Bitcoiners appear to be expanding.

Regardless, this kind of architecture is quite encouraging to see also it highlights a thing that I think lots of people who critique Bitcoin and several die-hard Bitcoiners overlook: The creativity of individuals building on Bitcoin, Lightning and any area of the stack will continue steadily to surprise us. There is absolutely no one on earth who can let you know what the stack can look like and just what it will provide later on. That is why I often think it is silly when people have a snapshot of the experience over the stack today and try to project out future activity on the network. We have no idea what we have no idea. And what we have no idea will continue steadily to push the look landscape of so what can and you will be built on Bitcoin later on. And that future appears to be very bright!

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