The Ethereum Foundation is hiring a dedicated security team to ensure the next version of the decentralised platform is as robust as it needs to be.
A lot of money relies on the security of Ethereum. The explosion in DeFi (decentralised finance) means there is now $4.3 billion “locked up” in Ethereum apps – an increase of 442% over the past three months. Yet, this is tiny compared to the figures we could be discussing in a few years as DeFi growth continues and more use cases present themselves across various industries.
Ethereum’s key advantage is being the first mover in the smart contracts space and garnering a legion of support behind it. There are currently around 200,000 active Ethereum developers and a recent initiative launched with the aim of attracting one million. Meanwhile, the Ethereum Enterprise includes hundreds of giants like Intel, Microsoft, JP Morgan, and more.
Long story short, a lot of people and companies are relying on Ethereum. Security is paramount.
Justin Drake, an Ethereum 2.0 researcher, announced the start of the recruitment process for a dedicated security team on Twitter:
The Ethereum Foundation has put a focus on security in recent months as preparation for the rollout of Ethereum 2.0 Phase 0 increases. Last month, the foundation launched two Ethereum 2.0 attack networks for hackers to try and break in return for a bounty. Various exploits have been discovered and patched through the initiative.
Ethereum 1.0 < Ethereum 2.0
In its current form, Ethereum 1.0 is now struggling. The slow transaction speeds and increasing fees haven’t been too much of an issue for projects’ needs until this point, but now they’re quickly becoming a hindrance. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin recently said that many large organisations are waiting to join Ethereum’s ecosystem but first want a solution to its limited bandwidth.
Buterin proposed the “Scalability Trilemma” in the early days of Ethereum which suggests that it’s impossible to have complete decentralisation, scalability, and security. Platforms need to decide what to prioritise.
Competitors like EOS have demonstrated speeds of up to around 9,000 TPS but at the expense of decentralisation. Of course, it’s decentralisation which attracts people to the likes of Ethereum and Bitcoin over the many centralised alternatives which offer high scalability and security.
There are “Layer 2” scaling solutions for Ethereum, like Matic, already available which can process transactions in the tens of thousands per second by taking less sensitive data off-chain. Anything which needs the security and decentralisation of Ethereum can be processed on-chain.
“Rollups” is a Buterin-backed solution which could boost Ethereum 1.0 up to around 3,000 TPS for Visa-level scalability (estimated to be around 1,700 TPS based on a calculation derived from the official claim of over 150 million transactions per day). This is sufficient for the vast majority of DApps for now.
Buterin expects rollups, in the first phase of Ethereum 2.0, to enable up to 100,000 TPS. Longer term, sharding may allow Ethereum to process over a million transactions per second. These are impressive figures which could unlock some exciting new use cases in areas like smart cities.
Some Ethereum developers believe the initial rollout of 2.0 will slip into next year. Others, including Buterin, still expect the rollout to begin this year and believe that it should launch – even if initially rough – as “eth2 is not going to have any critical applications depending on it until phase 1, so the practical risks of breakage are lower.”
Promising competitors like Cardano are on the heels of Ethereum offering some incentive to get 2.0 ready before developers look elsewhere. However, it’s clear there is still life left in Ethereum 1.0 if the likes of rollups can be used to reduce network congestion in the meantime.
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