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Crypto news: the debate in the Cosmos community over handling ‘accidental’ double signature on Neutron

Recent crypto news claims that the handling of the ‘accidental’ double signature on the Neutron consumer chain has led to a division within the Cosmos community. 

According to Rodriguez, this controversy could have a negative impact on the ‘value profile’ of Replicated Security. See below for all the details. 

Crypto news for Cosmos: possible solutions address complexity of double signature on Neutron

As anticipated, a recent crypto controversy has attracted attention within the Cosmos ecosystem regarding a proposal to ‘cut’ and ‘tombstoning’ two validators through a community vote.

The Neutron consumer chain, part of the Cosmos ecosystem, recently shared a case of ‘double signing‘ by two validators. Had this happened on the main Cosmos chain, it would have resulted in an automatic reduction of funds and a penalty known as ‘tombstoning,’ which prevents nodes from lapsing at validation.

However, because Neutron is protected by Cosmos through the ‘Replicated Security’ mechanism, sanctions require an ongoing community vote called Prop #818. This voting process is scheduled to conclude on 23 August. 

During a discussion on the 0xResearch podcast (available on Spotify and Apple), Blockworks Research analyst David Rodriguez provided some interesting insights into the ongoing debate.

Rodriguez’s view on the Incident and doubts about automated penalties

Rodriguez specifically provided a detailed view of the incident that sparked the controversy, as previously reported by Blockworks. During a phased update of Neutron, validators were required to update to the latest versions. 

According to Rodriguez, it appears that two validators made the mistake of ‘signing twice’ the same block, that is, sending two signature messages for the same block. Obviously, this was considered a serious mistake. 

Furthermore, Rodriguez stated the following: 

“As a still very recent technology, sanctions such as cutting and permanent expulsion are not yet automated for the consumer chain. The question then arises: what would happen if the validators were accidentally cut from a consumption chain without having made any mistakes?”

In this situation, the decision to cut validators or not must be made by the community within Cosmos Hub, as Rodriguez explains. 

Although it does not appear that any of the validators acted with ‘bad intentions’ in the double-signing, some experts in the situation believe that regardless of the intentionality of the act, “the code represents the law.” 

“If a validator had signed twice on the Cosmos Hub, they would have been automatically cut off and removed for permanent removal.” 

Rodriguez then goes on to explain: 

“Why aren’t we taking the exact same approach and setting the exact same precedent for consumer chains? There are a lot of validators right now that are looking at this and saying, ‘Well, the risk-reward for validating a consumer chain isn’t worth it. Validators don’t want to be penalized for unintentionally double signing or doing anything else bad to these consumer chains.”

The post-cut review and the crypto security debate

Ren Yu Kong, an analyst at Blockworks Research, also agrees with much of what Rodriguez said, suggesting that following a cut, the community could implement a review process through a veto committee, which would have the ability to ‘undo’ such a cut.

“In systems that rely heavily on cryptocurrency security, it is critical to ensure that the cut occurs immediately or is in line with the code. It is not necessary to make a cut and then instantly undo it. You can transfer resources to a community-managed wallet, then a committee could vote on whether to cancel or keep the cut.”

Rodriguez’s response is that the hub has taken a trusting approach, assuming that validators do not mark harmful intentions. With the benefit of experience, in fact, he says that giving validators the benefit of the doubt and leaving the decision to social consensus “probably wasn’t the best choice.”

According to Rodriguez, it would have made more sense to adopt a “cut first, then clarify” approach, i.e.: 

“If such situations had occurred on the Cosmos Hub or if an Osmosis validator had committed a double signature, the cut would have been applied immediately.”

Alessia Pannone
Alessia Pannone
Graduated in communication sciences, currently student of the master's degree course in publishing and writing. Writer of articles from an SEO perspective, with care for indexing in search engines.