A diverse Ethereum is like a forest in balance 🏕️🌲
Client diversity is critical to Ethereum — without it, a client bug could result in millions of ETH being lost!
Continue reading to learn more, and how Distribued Validators (DVT) like Diva’s can help mitigate this risk!
Understanding the role of Ethereum clients
First, we need to understand how Ethereum works. The blockchain is operated by different software clients:
- When these clients work well, the blockchain operates normally :)
- But if they’re buggy or malicious, their different views on the chain can cause slashing penalties to stakers or even disrupt the Ethereum chain.
This is extremely important, because any vulnerable Ethereum client can cause slashing damages, and these damages are magnified if many validators are affected at the same time. This is done to prevent malicious attacks.
Ethereum is unique in its client diversity, but we still need to keep improving.
Why is this critical?
- Clients with >66% of validators could fork Ethereum.
- Those validators can lose up to 100% of funds if slashed.
- Majority forks can be impossible to recover from.
Having any client at >50% share poses systemic risks. The goal is for all clients to have less than 33% share. But even the risk of ETH slashing still exists.
How can diversity and DVT improve this situation?
First, a story 📖
Long ago, there was forest that was in balance; with different tree species supporting each other in their diverse ecosystem.
They were then cut down, and replaced by a single fast-growing species to maximize for timber output and profits. 🤑
However, without its ecosystem, this species proved fragile. A single pest wiped out the entire forest, leading to the loss of both the economic value and the previously robust ecosystem. The 🔚.
Not a bad metaphor for a possible disaster scenario in Ethereum!
How can we prevent this?
The simplest thing Ethereum validators can do is run a minority client software with less than 33% share.
If such a client has a bug or exploitable vulnerability, all its validators can get slashed. 🔪
In May 2023, a “non-finality” incident occurred in the blockchain network, where some clients encountered a bug, preventing them from producing attestations. This led to losing finality for multiple epochs, a critical state that ensures once transactions are confirmed, they can’t be altered. If more than 4 epochs remain unfinalized, validators who aren’t attesting begin to accrue “leakage penalties,” losing some of their staked assets.
This situation, known as “inactivity leakage risk,” means validators face penalties for not performing their duties. During this non-finality period, validators using unaffected clients didn’t lose ETH, while those on affected clients faced leakage penalties. It highlights the importance of active participation, and the risks associated with interruptions in the validation process.
source: Ethereum Finality Incident
Remember: Penalties for slashing increase with correlation, beginning from:
- 1 ETH if <1% of all validators are slashed
- 2–10 ETH if 1–10% are slashed
- Up to 32 ETH if 33% of validators are slashed! 😱
Clearly, running a minority client increases diversity while minimizing risk to security and loss of ETH.🛡️
DVT as Additional Protection
As larger staking entities are swiftly approaching the critical threshold, that’s where Distributed Validation Technology like Diva can help.
With Diva, validation duties are performed by a 66% supermajority of key shares, instead of by single validation clients.
Each validator has 16 key shares operated by independent nodes with their own client combinations.
That means that in order to slash a single Diva validator, 11 out of 16 key shares (66%) would need to be faulty, which provides a protection that’s orders of magnitude better than without DVT!
Moreover, Diva’s Distributed Validator Technology (DVT) transforms network reliability. Instead of 5% downtime with a typical set of 16 nodes, Diva’s DVT reduces combined downtime to less than 0.01%. It turns 95% individual node uptime into a collaborative uptime of 99.99%, setting a new standard in efficiency.
The collective advantages of Diva’s DVT create a compelling and innovative solution to risks currently posed to centralized staking/validating. In alignment with Ethereum’s values, Diva aims towards contributing to a more diverse and decentralized ecosystem built by and for the community.
🐦 Follow @divastaking on Twitter
🧨 Join the Diva Operator Testnet to help Diva support more diverse clients!
Inspired by a Twitter Spaces with the Nimbus team: twitter.com