HIP – Helium Improvement Proposals 66 Going To Bring Trust Score & Denylist Convenience
As a decentralized network, Helium allows everyone to add compatible hotspots and increase its coverage and capacity. As a reward, people who do so can earn HNT (soon to be IoT) tokens. The idea is to motivate healthy and reliable service and network growth.
As such there’s a robust process in place to make sure hotspots are where they claim to be. Sadly, people are people and often try to find various ways to cheat the system. Spoofing Helium hotspot locations can be damaging to the network’s reputation and operability. Plus, scammers can get unfair earnings without putting in the actual work.
So, it’s time for a change
This is where HIP 66 comes in. It’s titled “Trust Score & Denylist Convenience” and it’s on GitHub right now. The Helium Improvement Proposal claims that despite numerous efforts to limit spoofing, “spoofers are still thriving”. It seems that only a small number of them are punished and end up on the denylist.
Unfortunately, there’s no single way to determine a spoofed hotspot. “This HIP therefore looks at several types of data that are typically looked at when looking for spoofers and combines them into a score, the Trust Score, which is designed to tell how likely a hotspot is to be spoofing, in order for them to be manually added to the denylist later”, says the proposal.
If the HIP is successful, it will require some actual work from hotspot owners. The proposal says previous attempts to automate the process aren’t successful due to a variety of reasons. Mainly, it’s difficult to analyze the activity and make sure it’s valid.
So, this HIP proposes to use multiple types of data before adding a hotspot to the denylist. Hotspot owners will also be able to find, investigate and report possible spoofed instances. Also, if you get wrongfully accused of having a spoofed hotspot, you will be able to prove its integrity within the app.
How it works
HIP 66 offers to introduce a Trust Score to each hotspot. To determine this Trust Score, the system will use several criteria. Among them are the blockchain additional date, asserted location, addresses of the owner, IP address, interactions with other hotspots, GPS localization, invalid witnesses and even photo & video proof.
“An honest hotspot can lose points in some places because their behavior is associated to that of a spoofer. For example, an honest hotspot using a VPN and showing an IP outside of the country it is located in will lose points. Losing points does not mean a hotspot is automatically accused of spoofing. The Trust Score takes everything into account. Losing points simply means that, from a purely statistical point of view, a hotspot is more likely to be spoofing”, says the proposal.
Also, the Trust Score has to be visible via the Helium explorer. This way users can sort Trust Scores via the various criteria and evaluate if there’s possible spoofing.
“The way the Trust Score is calculated might negatively impact some honest miners that are in very specific situations. Although precautions are taken to limit this impact, by spreading the Trust Score over many types of data, there will probably be some honest miners losing points on several of them”, the HIP adds.
These issues should be temporary though. Additions to the denylist won’t be automatic and impacted hotspot owners will be able to prove their integrity via the Helium app. As such, they should also be able to restore usual earnings.
Up for debate
The HIP notes there are still a few questions to answer. They are up for debate on the HIP’s official discord room.
Among the questions is how the Trust Score will be secured. Will it be easy to cheat the score? Can even more data be added to the overall score? How can the system be sure that the photos, videos and GPS data is also true? Will the Helium app be able to handle the validation process and should it be within that or another app?
Also, what if you change your antenna and upgrade to a better one? The HIP author says: “The intention is to only take into consideration assertions that change the location, not those that change only the antenna’s specification”.
It will be a while before HIP 66 is up for a vote, as the latest voted HIP was 59. That’s good, as the discussion phase will allow to hone in the details and answer all of the questions.