Solana (SOL) Network Halts AGAIN! Was This Time Any Different or Is the Community Not Learning from Past Mistakes?

By Michael @ CryptoEQ | CryptoEQ | 2 May 2022


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Last weekend, the Solana network suffered another halt of the network due to a large influx of transactions (spam). An earlier Twitter post had said that “Solana Mainnet Beta lost consensus after an enormous amount of inbound transactions (4m per second) flooded the network, surpassing 100gbps.” 

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Engineers were still investigating why the network was unable to recover from the crush of transactions that caused the outage. However, validator operators successfully completed a restart on Saturday (4/21/22) following ~7 hours of downtime. Additionally, if downtime wasn't bad enough, several Solana validators advocated for censoring certain NFT projects they deemed nonessential to help reboot the network. The entire ordeal is yet another bad look for the network where outages are becoming regular occurrences (see below) and traditional cryptocurrency ideals like decentralization, permissionless, and credible neutrality are being compromised.

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September 2021 Denial of Service Attack

major security issue on the Solana network surfaced in September of 2021. On September 14th, 2021, a large number of bots flooded the network and created a large number of transactions, effectively overflowing the network and causing validators to stall. This attack on the network made consensus impossible, effectively crippling the network.

While no funds were lost in the attack, the network went offline for 17 hours. To counteract the crash, the Solana community proposed a hard fork “upgrade-and-restart” of the network, a proposal that requires 80% of all validators to agree. Despite the network crash, the community was able to diagnose the problem, integrate a solution, and get Solana back online in under 24 hours. 

December 2021 DDoS Attack

On December 9th, 2021 Solana reportedly suffered another DDoS attack. It’s widely believed the congestion was caused by bot activity attempting to mint NFTs on the new Solana-based NFT company Blockasset. Although the network appeared to remain online throughout the attack, it still eroded confidence in members of the crypto community.

Some community members specifically have challenged Proof-of-History as a consensus mechanism outright, stating that because it creates predictability in block propagation, it makes the network more susceptible to these kinds of attacks.

Solana Critical Bug Disclosure 

In December 2021, security researchers at Neodyme discovered a critical bug in the SPL token-lending contract. According to the firm, approximately $2.6 billion in TVL was at risk due to the vulnerability. A bug-fix was shipped and many dApps have been updated to mitigate the risks of being exploited. Full details regarding the discovery, disclosure, and bug-fix can be found in the official bug disclosure.

January Downtime

January 2022 was a highly volatile month for the cryptocurrency market which created added stress for top projects like Solana. Solana suffered multiple outages in January, which the team explained as “excessive duplicate transactions causing a high level of network congestion.” The increased market volatility led to concentrated sell-offs and liquidations, stressing the throughput of the network.

It’s precisely during these times of panic and concentrated selling that crypto users and traders most need a reliable network. If the chain is congested and transactions can’t be executed, users are stuck in their positions with no recourse while prices continue to fall. At least in most blockchain networks like Ethereum and Bitcoin, transactions have a fee market where users may pay more to get their transactions included. Solana suffers from the fact that they don’t have a traditional fee market. Because Solana doesn’t, users who want to transact during congested periods sometimes can’t. Transaction attempts fail. This is the tradeoff made by Solana: transactions are fast and cheap much of the time, but in critical periods, the user experience is degraded to the point where the chain won’t accept anymore transactions.

Because of this, during liquidation events in January 2022 , bots often created dozens of duplicate transactions in an attempt to ensure their transaction was included. Fees are minimal and the profit from claiming a liquidated position is high, so bots were incentivized to do so. This created far more transactional congestion than is typically necessary, but was all part of the incentives in place within the Solana design. After January’s outages, Solana realized the issue and released v1.9, which constrains the compute limit of a block to approximately the time in which a single thread should be blocked for the block, mitigating the multiple transactions from the same bot problem.

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Michael @ CryptoEQ
Michael @ CryptoEQ

I am a Co-Founder and Lead Analyst at CryptoEQ. Gain the market insights you need to grow your cryptocurrency portfolio. Our team's supportive and interactive approach helps you refine your crypto investing and trading strategies.


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