Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Eyal Meron, the co-founder and CEO of Spherex, contends that both hackers and smart contract auditors have an interest in discovering code vulnerabilities. However, he emphasizes that hackers often have greater motivation, especially as the total value locked (TVL) in the protocol rises. Meron advocates the implementation of what he refers to as “asymmetric countermeasures” to combat this persistent issue.

Human Mistakes and Smart Contract Security Flaws

Meron also endorses the idea of adopting an anti-exploit mechanism as an additional safeguard against code vulnerabilities that could potentially lead to multimillion-dollar asset thefts. Despite his expertise as a seasoned member of Israel’s elite 8200 cyber unit, he concedes that human errors are mostly unavoidable and are often the primary reason for smart contract weaknesses.

Such errors often manifest when developers fail to consider how each line of code could affect the contract in its various possible states. It is precisely these shortcomings that malefactors exploit to illegitimately transfer digital assets valued in the millions. Industry insiders like Meron maintain that the entire Web3 ecosystem is jeopardized when users lose funds in this manner.

In written responses to CryptokenTop.com News, Ariel Tempelhof, the Chief Product Officer at Spherex, discussed the potential of collaborative efforts between blockchain networks and on-chain security providers in countering code exploiters and other cybercriminals. Tempelhof also addressed the argument that anti-exploit measures could possibly serve as tools for censorship.

Comprehensive Responses from Eyal Meron and Ariel Tempelhof to CryptokenTop.com News Queries

CryptokenTop.com News (BCN): What are the frequent errors made by developers that offer hackers opportunities to exploit smart contract vulnerabilities?

Eyal Meron (EM): Numerous errors commonly occur, stemming from the complexity of smart contracts, which function as state machines that exponentially expand with the code base and transaction volume. Human mistakes are inevitable, both from developers and auditors. The prevalent mistake is neglecting to consider how each line of code impacts the contract under various states, a task that is practically insurmountable.

BCN: Despite multiple audits, why do smart contract vulnerabilities persist and what are the shortcomings of existing protective measures like auditing?

EM: The recurring audits exemplify that they are a ‘best-effort’ approach and insufficient for comprehensive security. Auditors and attackers are both searching for code vulnerabilities, yet attackers have greater incentives as the protocol’s TVL grows. Given the limited resources available to auditors, protocols must establish asymmetric countermeasures to stay ahead.

BCN: Can you elaborate on Spherex’s new anti-exploit solution, Spherex-Protect, and its implications for blockchain decentralization?

EM: Spherex-Protect serves as the missing element in the Web3 security architecture. It shifts focus from identifying code flaws to ensuring consistent protocol operation. This protection is on-chain, offering two essential features: verifiability and decentralization. Anyone can review the protection code and grasp its functioning. Ownership of the protection can vary, aligning with the tenets of decentralization.

BCN: How does Spherex distinguish between legitimate and suspicious transactions, and what steps are taken if a transaction is flagged?

Ariel Tempelhof (AT): Our research team has spent a year studying optimal ways to differentiate between legitimate and malicious transactions while keeping gas costs minimal. We consider various data points, such as gas usage and storage modifications. A decision to permit or revert a transaction is made upon sufficient data accumulation. Transactions that are reverted undergo further off-chain analysis for future action recommendations.

BCN: What are your views on the evolution of smart contract security in a multi-chain future?

AT: A blockchain is an ecosystem comprising various interoperable protocols. As security becomes a selling point for blockchains, there will be a shift towards implementing security baselines for ecosystem-wide adoption. Spherex is already collaborating with blockchains to introduce such countermeasures.

BCN: Could anti-exploit solutions eventually serve as censorship tools?

AT: Our anti-exploit system is engineered to avoid functioning as a censorship tool. The data points considered are protocol-specific and do not involve sender identification. Implementing censorship is, in our opinion, futile given the ease of address alteration on blockchains.

We invite your thoughts on this comprehensive interview in the comments section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Asymmetric Countermeasures in Smart Contract Security

What is the main focus of the interview with Eyal Meron and Ariel Tempelhof?

The interview concentrates on the need for “asymmetric countermeasures” in enhancing smart contract security. It delves into the vulnerabilities often found in smart contracts, the limitations of current auditing practices, and the features of Spherex’s new anti-exploit solution, Spherex-Protect.

Who is Eyal Meron and what is his background?

Eyal Meron is the co-founder and CEO of Spherex. He is also a seasoned veteran of Israel’s elite 8200 cyber unit. He emphasizes the role of human error in creating smart contract vulnerabilities and advocates for asymmetric countermeasures to mitigate risks.

What are “asymmetric countermeasures” according to Eyal Meron?

As per Eyal Meron, “asymmetric countermeasures” refer to strategies that give protocols an upper hand in protecting against vulnerabilities. These are designed to be more effective and resource-efficient than traditional approaches like auditing.

What does Ariel Tempelhof contribute to the interview?

Ariel Tempelhof, the Chief Product Officer at Spherex, discusses the methods Spherex employs to distinguish between legitimate and malicious transactions. He also addresses the multi-chain future of smart contract security and responds to concerns about potential censorship implications of anti-exploit solutions.

What is Spherex-Protect?

Spherex-Protect is an anti-exploit solution developed by Spherex. It focuses not on identifying code flaws but on ensuring the consistent operation of the protocol. The protection is on-chain, making it verifiable and potentially decentralized, according to the wishes of the protocol’s stakeholders.

What are some common vulnerabilities in smart contracts?

Common vulnerabilities often stem from human errors like overlooking the impact of each line of code on the contract’s different possible states. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by attackers to steal digital assets worth millions.

How does Spherex distinguish between legitimate and suspicious transactions?

Spherex uses a data-driven approach to differentiate between legitimate and malicious transactions. Multiple data points like gas consumption, storage changes, and input parameters are considered during transaction execution. Transactions that are flagged as suspicious undergo further analysis for future action recommendations.

Can Spherex-Protect be used as a censorship tool?

According to Ariel Tempelhof, Spherex-Protect is engineered not to function as a censorship tool. The data points it considers are intrinsic to the protocol and are not affected by the entity initiating the transaction.

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