The health of any cryptocurrency can be measured by how decentralized it is. For Bitcoin, that metric for decentralization is the number of full Bitcoin nodes which are being run by independent, non-centralized individuals. The lightning network improves this and strengthens Bitcoin’s blockchain due to genius design decisions made by the developers of the lightning network.
Without healthy decentralization in a blockchain’s ecosystem, a bad actor can perform a double spend. A double spend is very real and has already happened on lesser decentralized coins. Another example of unhealthy decentralization is the use of cloud computing to run full nodes. Often services like Digital Ocean or Amazon’s EC2 service are used to run nodes. If the majority of these nodes are run in cloud based solutions owned by the same company then this gives governments or possible bad actors within the companies themselves opportunities to harm the network and shut these nodes down. You do not truly control these machines, you’re simply renting processing power from the companies and they can do what they wish. History has showed us that centralized services have been taken down before with ease.
The only true healthy way to support bitcoin decentralization and the Bitcoin network is to run a full Bitcoin node from within your home or office. You must be able to control your machine. The lightning network builds upon this and forces you to run a full Bitcoin node if you want to run a lightning wallet. This is required since the lightning client needs to have knowledge of blocks within layer 1 of the Bitcoin blockchain. This inadvertently improves bitcoin decentralization and we’re going to see as the lightning network grows, so too will the strength and security of the Bitcoin network.
For those that are not technical there exist out-of-the-box solutions to run not only a full bitcoin node, but also the lightning network. These new companies are making it really easy to set up new nodes and further improve bitcoin’s decentralization. The lightning network is helping Bitcoin become a self-fulfilling prophecy towards keeping it’s foothold for having the most secure blockchain. If you’re interested in purchasing a full node and lightning network combo box, check it out here. For the more technical individuals that can follow guides check this out.