Casa: Bitcoin and Lightning Nodes Easier to Launch with Tor

Image from torproject.org.

Bitcoin startup Casa has found that privacy-minded network Tor helps users get around networking issues when setting up a bitcoin and lightning node.

Speaking at the Consensus 2019 conference, CASA CTO Jameson Lopp discussed this point while providing insight about what Casa has learned about its own product: a plug-and-play bitcoin and lightning node that aims to make setup and implementation easier for users.

Setting up a full Casa node involves making sure that other nodes can see the node on the network. To do this, most users set up port forwarding rules on their routers.

While it’s a simple process on paper, the fact that there are a large number of different routers, all with different settings and setup processes, means users still run into issues.

Bypassing port forwarding issues

The Tor network, meanwhile, is commonly used to shield a node’s IP address to prevent others from knowing where it’s located. Using Tor, as counter-intuitive as it may seem on the surface, makes this problem moot.

As Casa found, Tor just routes around the problem altogether.

With Tor, we were able to punch through all these networking issues,” Lopp said. He also explained that Casa has tested a “universal plug-and-play” setting to try and solve the issue, but this solution apparently only worked around half of the time.

Of course, using the Tor network means users will have to also use the Tor browser, which as Lopp confessed is not the easiest process. Between the headaches caused by port forwarding configuration issues and putting up with the Tor browser, though, Lopp believes that the choice is completely obvious.

It’s easier to do that than going through all this networking complexity,” he said.