Report – Uniformity in Ethereum Smart Contracts Pose Risks to Ecosystem
Ethereum’s (ETH) lack of diversity of smart contracts poses a threat to the ecosystem of the Ethereum block chain, according to study report published on October 31 by a team of analysts from the University of Maryland and Northeastern University.
The research paper, entitled “Analyzing Ethereum’s Contract Topology,” argues that several Ethereum smart contracts are “direct-or near-copies of other contracts.” That points to a potential risk when a duplicated smart contract contains a vulnerable or malformed code.
Partly aided by the US National Science Foundation, the research analyzed the bytecodes of Ethereum smart contracts in its first 5 million blocks, covering nearly three years from the launch of the cryptocurrency in 2015.With the aim of logging all communications between contracts and their clients, the academics have also gathered and altered data via the virtual machine of Ethereum, named geth.
Presently, Ethereum smart contracts are “three times more likely to be created by other contracts” than by end users, the research found. Additionally, more than 60% of contracts “have never been interacted with,” while only about 10% of contracts supported by users are unique. The study also pointed out that there is a considerable reutilization of code on Ethereum, which can supposedly have a “widespread impact on the Ethereum user population,” in spite of the fact that it is also possibly a “driving force behind Ethereum’s success.”
The low diversity of smart contracts on Ethereum blockchain acts as a potential risk to the entire blockchain ecosystem. The researchers have pointed out that Ethereum has been the subject of several “high-profile bugs,” resulting in the freezing of more than $ 170 million worth of cryptocurrency. The academics decided that numerous “core contract functionality” implementations on Ethereum would ultimately offer “greater defense in depth for Ethereum.”
Originally built by Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum is a public, open-source blockchain-powered platform that offers smart contracts along with native cryptocurrency Ether. The blockchain platform was initiated on July 30, 2015. With a market capitalization of around $20.6 billion, based on the trading price of $200, it is the second major crypto currency.
Notably, in mid-October, a smart contract security breach on Ethereum blockchain caused a loss of around $38,000 for SpankChain, an adult entertainment platform.
Earlier in April 2018, OKEX, the second largest crypto exchange by trading volume, suspended all ERC20 token deposits after discovering a “new smart contract bug,” which supposedly permits hackers to “generate an extremely large amount of tokens, and deposit them into a normal address.”