RIAT Monero Workgroup updates: Monero, ASIC resistance, (Hardware) Wallets

We have been rather silent since december, but a lot of things have happened behind the curtains. We are currently setting up a more regular meetup (every month) and we have been extensively working on growing the local Workgroup and also have been reaching out to other Meetups internationally. Research intern Kun Woo will be setting up a Monero Hong Kong meetup (in ‘planning’ status) and our local RIAT Monero Workgroup is currently supporting Monerujo Android Wallet and the Monero Open Hardware Wallet. Some of you who have been at the Monero December / focus month or at the 34c3 in Leipzig might have seen the projects already. There is a lot of progress on other small projects as well, so in this post we summed up:


  • information on the upcoming network upgrade (Monero 0.12) approx. 6.April.
  • a roundup of recent news and things that happened in Monero land in the pasts months, including an update of ASIC resistance, Monero forks, Open Hardware Wallet progress and controversies in news outlets Wired and CoinDesk.
  • a short description of our local Monero Workgroup at RIAT and info on how you can help out.


Upcoming network upgrade

As dEBRUYNE_1 already was describing on /r/monero in his post “General information regarding the upcoming scheduled network upgrade and a call for community action”, a scheduled hard fork of the Monero blockchain will happen approximately 6th of April. These forks happen on a regular basis and have been recently renamed to “scheduled network upgrade” in order to keep people from panicking or thinking that they will receive free airdrop tokens. RIAT research intern Kun Woo looked into the history of Monero and has written an article titled “The long fork story of Monero XMR” on medium. Rachel-Rose O’Leary wrote an excellent piece on coindesk: Crypto Kill Switch: Monero Goes to War Against Miners. These are just two background stories describing the upcoming Monero network upgrade from different perspectives.

It is very important for users and operators of services related to Monero / XMR to update their CLI or GUI to Monero “Lithium Luna”, as this upgrade is a very important one, tackling a lot of features (see the full list of new features in the release log). The minimum ring size increased from 5 to 7, multisig support is implemented, and initial support for Ledger Nano S hardware wallet has been added. Two important changes are “tweaked PoW to block DoS attacks from ASICs”, which is dubbed ASIC resistance; and “mitigations for privacy-threatening key reusing forks”, referring to MoneroV and the more recently announced Monero0 (which is considered a fork-joke rather than a real currency).


ASIC resistance

As bitmain already has confirmed ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) for Ethereum (source) and for Cryptonight; Monero (source), the different cryptocurrency communities are discussing outlooks and changes in the overall cryptoeconomic dynamics. While the MoneroV fork is allowing ASICs to mine their currency, Monero goes to war against miners. ZCash’s Zooko said to implement ASIC resistance if the community shows enough interest, and the recent Ethereum Improvement Proposal #958 suggests to modify Ethereum’s ethash and to “hard fork to make ASIC mining harder”.  


Monero Open Hardware Wallet

The first phase of the Monero Open Hardware Wallet concluded on budget and on schedule on 31.03.2018 (see the original FFS page). Progress and outlooks can be seen on the follow-up page “Advancing Monero Hardware Wallet” and on the monero taiga page RFC-HWALLET-1 DESIGN, where a lot of sketches, but also photos can be seen. The project website is on kastelo.org.


Controversies in news outlets Wired and CoinDesk

It all started when Wired’s Andy Greenberg published a story claiming that The Dark Web’s favourite currency is less untraceable than it seems. He not only reduced Monero’s use-case to dark net markets, but also referred to a recent paper titled “An Empirical Analysis of Traceability in the Monero Blockchain”. This led to a lot of online responses, including a summary by Rachel-Rose O’Leary (Broken Privacy? The Allegations Against Monero Are Old News) and a response by Justin Ehrenhofer on getmonero.org.


RIAT Monero Workgroup

The RIAT Monero Workgroup is meeting weekly and working on communicating and documenting open issues of the Monero project. The workgroup currently focuses on communication and advocacy regarding the Monerujo Android Wallet and the Monero Open Hardware Wallet, as well developing new workshop formats to start developing. The upcoming Monero Austria Meetup will be introducing the topics and will also explain how to join efforts. If you are interested to help out, you can meanwhile join the monero taiga project management tool or the Monero Community Reddit /r/MoneroCommunity.