Lightning Labs, the company behind the Lightning Network, will add ‘Watchtowers” as a feature to prevent fraud in their upgrade.

The “Watchtowers” feature looks to alleviate a long-standing issue for those on the Lightning Network. In the current situation, those who have made a transaction on the network must stay online to ward off any chance of a “counterparty” having access to their transactions.

Watchtowers monitor instructions for the customers

The Watchtower does the monitoring for the customer so, if a counterparty or customer tries to show an old transaction, giving themselves more money, the watchtower flags this and prevents this from happening through a punishment.

Lightning Labs CTO, Olaoluwa Osuntokun, gave more of an insight into the ‘Watchtowers’ when he spoke to Coindesk:

“A big factor also [in my opinion] is that now we have a direct deterrence in place against any possible breach attempts, now that the tower code is out there in the open, an attacker now has a powerful disincentive against attempting an attack since it’s very possible that the potential victim has a tower watching their back.”

The driving force for the project has been Lightning Labs head of cryptographic engineering Conner Fromknecht, who alongside others in the team, has been busy in developing the idea since the start of last year. However, the concept behind the Watchtowers has been in the making since the company’s conception in 2015.

Lightning Network’s Watchtowers are a step above the rest

Others have also attempted to have their own versions of watchtowers. For example, MIT’s Lit was used by Bitfury and Bitcoin Lightning Wallet, which uses watchtowers, called the “Olympus Server.”

However, Osuntokun believes the latest development from the Lightning Labs is a cut apart from the other attempts. This is down to the watchtowers being able to “auto-discover” rather than work manually. Another added feature is that anyone can use a watchtower.

Osuntoken described this element in greater detail, saying:

“The importance of this release is that once deployed, any routing node can run their own tower to protect their infrastructure. Also any business using [lightning network] today can also start to run towers to protect their nodes,”

The watchtowers can also be shared around meaning users can have numerous towers looking over their funds. Not only that but, the ability to share also lowers costs for friends who may also be on the network but can’t afford to run a watchtower on their own.

Overall though, Osuntokun believes the upcoming addition will make the network a “safer place”. We will have to wait and see if this is a reality once the much anticipated Lightning Network upgrade happens this month.