There is no doubt to the fact that the Solana blockchain has had an incredible year. The chain emerged as one of the top choices for developers looking for alternatives to the Ethereum blockchain, and its SOL token has jumped quite considerably throughout the year.
But, the past few weeks have also shown that much work is needed across the industry when it comes to security. And if there’s a network that understands this, it’s Solana.
DDoS Attacks on the Solana Blockchain
Earlier this month, several reports confirmed that the Solana network had suffered a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, causing the network to get clogged up and restricting the free flow of transactions. Blockasset, a Solana-based platform for non-fungible tokens (NFTs), reported that the latter network had suffered the DDoS attack, making it impossible for it (Blockasset, that is) to distribute tokens effectively.
A DDoS attack occurs when external computers deliberately clog up a network with fake transactions in order to make it lower and prevent the seamless order of transactions. These attacks could be manual, or they could be assisted with botnets.
GenesysGo, an infrastructure platform built on Solana, also reported that it had seen difficulties with transaction processing. While they attributed the challenges to ”growing pains,” it seemed obvious at that time that Solana had gone down due to the attacks.
Interestingly. This isn’t the first time that Solana would suffer a significant outage. Back in September, a Twitter account called Solana Status announced that the blockchain’s mainnet had suffered intermittent instability for 45 minutes. A few hours after the announcement, Solana Status pointed out that the Solana network had seen a sharp increase in transaction load, causing the network to be overwhelmed and creating a DDoS.
The Solana Foundation eventually claimed that the attack had targeted Grape Protocol - a decentralized social media platform. Grape had been working on an Initial Decentralized Offering (IDO) on Raydium - a decentralized exchange built on Solana. However, bots eventually spanned the network, overwhelming the entire Solana blockchain and creating over 400,000 transactions per second.
At the time, the news was especially bad for Solana’s SOL token, causing it to drop by about 15 percent in 24 hours. A price drop was also witnessed during December’s outage, although that drop came as the entire market was in a downturn.
It is worth noting that Solana is safe now. The network was able to mitigate the DDoS attack earlier this month, and its operations have gone back to normal. On-chain development for the blockchain has also increased, showing that engineers are working to ensure that outages like these never happen again.
More Work to Be Done for Solana
The frequency of these hacks is a bit of a concern, especially when you consider the fact that Solana is looking to come for Ethereum’s crown as the most popular blockchain. While network outages are expected for nascent projects (and those with massive potential, it also shows that more work needs to be done to keep things running smoothly.
Some people have also noted that these outages are due to Solana’s increased centralization. One of the unique features of this blockchain is the fact that it relies on the Solana Foundation to develop its core nodes. Compare that to Ethereum, which has several core node developers. Anyone can be a blockchain validator on Solana, but running anode could be expensive due to the blockchain’s high transaction volumes.
These high costs have led to increased centralization, even though Solana continues to offer fast and cheap transactions for its users. If the blockchain becomes more centralized, hackers would know just where to attack, and security risks could continue to run without any mitigation.
Everyone Should Be Watchful Right Now
For now, the fact that Solana is back up should encourage developers and users to use the blockchain even more. But, it is also worth staying careful. Security risks are all over the crypto and blockchain industry, and every stakeholder can be vulnerable - exchanges, trading platforms, blockchains, and more.
Just this month, crypto exchange BitMart lost almost $200 million after hackers exploited vulnerabilities in its blockchain servers. AscendEX, a trading platform, also lost about $80 million after issues in its hot wallets were identified and exploited.
Security processes for blockchain businesses have improved significantly over the past few years. But, that doesn’t mean that companies should become complacent. Hackers will always be on the prowl, and everyone needs to be additionally careful.