Bitcoin’s Lightning Network has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. Ever since it received Tor support, more and more nodes have begun exploring this option. Today, nearly half of the public liquidity can be accessed over this layer for additional privacy.
The Lightning Network and Tor
For quite some time now, it has been able to use Tor for Lightning Network nodes. Functionality was introduced to provide extra privacy to users. Not everyone wants to expose their IP address to the public when running a Lightning Network node. All of the major LN implementations provide Tor support, further highlighting the importance of additional privacy.
Running the LN over Tor is not that different from doing so normally. Users can complete payments, fulfill incoming requests, and everything in exactly the same manner. The overall functionality remains exactly the same. One key difference is how connected peers will see a Tor connection, rather than a public IP.
In terms of receiving payments, any public node running Tor can send you money. For non-private nodes, a connection path to at least one node with the option to connect to Tor will be required. All of these connections are handled automatically by the software, and users should have no issues whatsoever.
More Private Nodes Show Up
Looking at the current statistics, it is evident there is a growing interest in privacy for LN nodes. More specifically, the total capacity over this network sits at 448.51 BTC. Considering how the total capacity of public LN nodes sits at 984.31 BTC, the correlation between the two cannot be ignored.
With 45.6% of the public LN capacity accessible through Tor, things have certainly moved in an interesting direction. More and more users want to protect their privacy at all times. Cryptocurrency enthusiasts are often targeted by hackers and other criminals. Hiding one’s IP address is an option to explore, albeit not a foolproof solution.
It is also worth noting there are 2,161 Lightning Network nodes running Tor. With 7.361 nodes in total, over 25% of users aim to protect their privacy. Determining how many payment channels are running over this network, is not possible at the time.
Lightning Network users increasing their privacy may want to support the Tor Project directly. In late 2019, the nonprofit introduced official support for Bitcoin donations over the LN. This gives Bitcoin enthusiasts an extra option to contribute financially to this great project.