November 29 – December 4 , 2020, Dagstuhl Seminar 20491

CANCELLED Security of Decentralized Financial Technologies

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this seminar was cancelled. A related Dagstuhl Seminar was scheduled to October 16 – 21 , 2022 – Seminar 22421.


Joseph Bonneau (New York University, US)
Arthur Gervais (Imperial College London, GB)
Marie Vasek (University College London, GB)

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Trusted intermediaries have dominated economic interactions for centuries. With the advent of decentralized ledgers, such as Bitcoin, there exists arguably a rare opportunity window to build and shape novel decentralized financial technologies. Together, we have the possibility to lay the foundations for a transparent, auditable, and fair financial system.

The security of decentralized ledgers no longer relies on trust in a central third party. Instead, participants are expected to understand the open source protocol properties and security guarantees. We observe that such assumptions are challenging in real-world settings. To keep users informed, quantifiably secure, unbiased, and objective academic research is therefore crucial to clarify security and privacy properties of decentralized financial technologies. Ideally, we should construct systems which operate correctly by default, are transparent and auditable by any participant. Besides such societal challenges, decentralized ledgers still suffer from many technical limitations, e.g. they do not scale towards throughputs offered by state-of-the-art custodian payment networks, they are not as usable, and more importantly, their security might be vulnerable to well-funded irrational actors.

This Dagstuhl Seminar aims to unite researchers with deep knowledge in the many subfields of decentralized ledgers to jointly revisit their security and privacy properties. Example topics we will study are:

  • Use-case driven security
  • Secure data compression techniques
  • Manipulation resilient governance
  • Quantification of decentralization

The objectives of the seminar are to:

  1. Elaborate on how we can protect users of decentralized financial technologies. The seminar, therefore, aims to refine the fundamental tensions between security, usability, and performance of decentralized networks.
  2. Given those insights, the seminar aims to outline best practices for users to remain safe when utilizing decentralized ledgers.
  3. We plan to apply our recommendations specifically to blockchains such as Bitcoin and layer-two scaling solutions (such as Lightning).

Motivation text license
  Creative Commons BY 3.0 DE
  Joseph Bonneau, Arthur Gervais, and Marie Vasek

Dagstuhl Seminar Series


  • Networks
  • Security / Cryptology


  • Blockchain technology
  • Authenticated data structures
  • Security foundations
  • Distributed consensus protocols
  • Security economics


In the series Dagstuhl Reports each Dagstuhl Seminar and Dagstuhl Perspectives Workshop is documented. The seminar organizers, in cooperation with the collector, prepare a report that includes contributions from the participants' talks together with a summary of the seminar.


Download overview leaflet (PDF).

Dagstuhl's Impact

Please inform us when a publication was published as a result from your seminar. These publications are listed in the category Dagstuhl's Impact and are presented on a special shelf on the ground floor of the library.


Furthermore, a comprehensive peer-reviewed collection of research papers can be published in the series Dagstuhl Follow-Ups.