Bitcoin Core client’s 20th major iteration v0.20.0 has been released and is now available for download. The release was published on Wednesday introducing a host of new features, bug fixes, and performance improvements to better secure the Bitcoin network.
According to the team responsible for updating the Bitcoin Core client, the improvements are a culmination of six-month work and contributions from 119 developers. The development of this new iteration of Bitcoin Core was overseen by lead maintainer Wladimir van der Laan and saw the merging of over 500 pull requests.
Some of the main improvements to the Bitcoin Core client included in version 0.20.0 are increased integration with hardware wallets, the introduction of a new IP mapping configuration system dubbed Asmapping to ensure improved stability and efficiency of the Bitcoin network as well the removal of two notable Bitcoin improvement proposals (BIP) – BIP61 and BIP70.
The Asmap feature has been introduced to help protect the Bitcoin network against the infamous Erebus attack. In brief, during an Erebus attack, a large network participant (or node) could limit the connectivity of another node by slowly spoofing the connections from this node to the rest of the network.
Effectively, this becomes a “man-in-the-middle” attack because the connections from the victim node are now routed through the malicious node. This kind of attack is only possible if the malicious node has the extensive resourced to hijack traffic from the victim node. Expectedly this would be the kind of attack a large country or company can employ in case they wanted to attack the bitcoin network.
Bitcoin Core v0.20.0 solves this bug by intruding the use of Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs) which help route the traffic from any network node through a variety of network peers to reduce the chances of a malicious node could attack these nodes to ensure none of the traffic from the victim node gets transmitted to the rest of the nodes.
The latest release also saw the removal of the OpenSSL payment protocol (BIP70) and Reject Messages (BIP61). The former was a feature introduced a few years back which would help improve communication between a merchant and a customer by sharing details such as destination and refund addresses. However, this feature never really caught on with most bitcoin wallets opting for the more basic URI scheme (BIP21) which only required the sharing of amounts and payment addresses.
The Reject Messages (BIP61) are notifications a node shows to the user once a transaction is rejected by a peer node and the reasons why. According to the core developers, the notifications were redundant which necessitated the removal of the feature. The feature was disabled by default on the 0.18.0 release.
The release of the Bitcoin Core v0.20.0 comes barely a month after the occurrence of the third Bitcoin halving event which saw the block generation rewards cut in half from the previous 12.5 to 6.25 BTC.