Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Analyst Report Says, Lack of Uniqueness in Ethereum’s Smart Contracts Poses Risks to the Crypto Community

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Grace Joseph
Freelance Writer, Blogger, and Crypto Enthusiast. Studied Computer Science in University and Undergoing a Masters Degree Programme in Computer Engineering Contact@ reigngracia@gmail.com

On October, 31, three analysts from the Northeastern University and the University of Maryland released a paper called, “Analyzing Ethereum’s Contract Topology”. This report which focuses on how smart contracts are created, deleted, and called, shows that most smart contracts, were copied from existing ones.

As a consequence, this poses a threat to the Ethereum community since it is possible for the copied contract to be coded with bugs. That notwithstanding, the team of researchers noted that the reuse of codes might have positively contributed to the popularity and success of the Ethereum Blockchain technology.

The idea of Smart contracts was first conceived in 1993, and they are programs that are developed to execute based on the specifications of the creator. They store an application’s information, manage an agreement between multiple users, and serve as a utility to other smart contracts.

About the report, Ethereum as the second cryptocurrency with the largest market value, was thriving because it also uses smart contracts to store the records of transactions and the history of the calls made to those contracts. Also, these smart contracts cannot be altered unless another contract is created, and then moved to it by the user.

The group went ahead to analyze all Ethereum smart contracts bytecodes and took advantage of, Geth, an Ethereum’s virtual machine that can keep track of the interactions between contracts and their users. The result proved that less than 10 per cent of contracts were unique, with over 80 per cent being a duplicate.

There was a change in trend when it came to user-created contracts which were on a decline. Rather, contract-created contracts rose significantly especially after April 2017 and accounted for up to 3.4M, whereas user-created contracts were 1.2M. In the past, this was not so because user-created contracts always exceeded the former.

The report further stated that there was a high level of code re-use where a portion of the code in one contract was used in another. As suggested by the team, there will most likely be some contract with buggy codes, and this could impact on the Ethereum user population.

Conclusively, the trio went ahead to state that there was a lack of diversity when it came to the Ethereum’s smart contract ecosystem. For this reason, it could lead to potential security threats and even make the platform less reliable. An instance of a case, where the freezing of $170 million worth of Ether had occurred, was quoted and blamed on these buggy codes.

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