Blockchain and smart contracts are basically interconnected terms as the latter offer a unique approach for carrying out transactions. Smart contracts are digital representations of real-world agreements or contracts and are configured for executing certain actions upon the detection of certain triggers. One of the most popular programming languages used commonly for creating smart contracts on the blockchain is Solidity.
Therefore, many blockchain enthusiasts and professionals are looking forward to learning about solidity best practices for improving their professional excellence. The foremost concern for developing smart contracts with solidity refers to security as smart contracts can feature certain vulnerabilities. The following discussion dives into a basic impression of solidity and the different smart contract best practices you must follow with the language.
The use of Solidity for creating smart contracts is comparatively new, and the applications of blockchain are still searching for formidable grounding. Over the course of years, the emphasis on smart contract vulnerabilities has increased in the discussions surrounding Solidity. The security of smart contracts is essential and practically important than the security of any other piece of code or software.
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Reasons for Vulnerabilities in Smart Contract Security
Smart contracts are immutable and could not be subject to any changes. However, this reason is not enough to sit back and relax without thinking of solidity security best practices. So, what are the primary causes that can give rise to vulnerabilities in solidity smart contracts?
- First of all, there are no clear standards related to security with industry-wide recognition in the case of Solidity.
- There are no specific best practices that developers should follow in the different projects for developing smart contracts.
- Developers don’t have suitable tools for easier creation, testing, verification, and auditing of smart contracts, and most important of all; they don’t have the tools for collaboration.
- Developers don’t have access to a specific set of tools for developing smart contracts and decentralized applications. In addition, smart contract security issues also become more prominent with the lack of any developer handbooks for smart contracts. Developers could not access Clean Code or Design Patterns for smart contracts, thereby ending up with notable complications.
Blockchain, although a popular alternative across different industries, is still in the experimental phases. So, you could easily expect many changes arriving constantly in the blockchain landscape as it grows exponentially. Therefore, it is important to note that the state of security in blockchain will not remain the same a few years from now.
As the turn of events in the blockchain industry continues to speed up, developers would come face to face with different security vulnerabilities and new bugs. So, developers have to attend to newly developed smart contract best practices to ensure flawless designs in smart contracts.
A security mindset is highly critical due to the higher costs associated with failure and difficulties with change. Now, developers couldn’t just make it through with basic defense mechanisms against the known vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is highly important that developers must follow all the essential best practices to safeguard their smart contracts.
The question on the minds of readers now must be pointing out the best practices that are required for solidity smart contract security. Developers should embrace a completely new philosophy of smart contract development on the basis of following solidity security best practices. Let us take a look at all the important best practices that can help you ensure adequate safeguards against security threats in smart contracts.
Also Read: Top 10 Common Solidity Issues
Expect the Unexpected
One of the most basic precedents in the security focuses on preparing for failure at all costs. It is important to note that any important smart contract is likely to have various errors. Subsequently, the code should have the capabilities for responding to bugs as well as vulnerabilities with ease. Some of the notable solidity security best practices to help you prepare for failure are as follows,
- Try to stop the contract when you suspect any form of discrepancies with the circuit breaker approach. The circuit breaker is basically an emergency stop that has the capabilities for stopping the execution of different functions in a smart contract. It is possible to trigger a circuit breaker manually. The trusted parties in the contract, such as the contract admin, could trigger the circuit breaker manually. On the other hand, you can also go for programmatic rules for automatically triggering the circuit breaker under specific conditions. A circuit breaker is commonly used in the case of smart contracts when developers discover a bug.
- Developers should also ensure efficient management of the amount of money at risk in the smart contract. The common tools for achieving this action refer to rate limit and maximum usage. In some cases, the rush of requests for a certain function could affect the desired operational performance in smart contracts. So, developers should ensure appropriate regulations for executing a task in a specific period of time.
- Another important mention among solidity best practices refers to an upgrade path that should be capable of bug fixes and relevant improvements.
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More often than not, developers encounter issues with smart contract security due to a lack of attention. If you are careful in identifying and resolving bugs before the full production release, then you could easily avoid long-term complications in the functionalities of smart contracts. Here are some of the recommended practices to make sure that your smart contracts are free of bugs before release.
- Comprehensive testing of contracts is the first recommended measure to ensure better identification of bugs. Furthermore, developers should also look forward to opportunities for adding new tests in cases where they discover new attack vectors.
- One of the most common best practices to deal with smart contract security issues is bug bounty. If you are not successful in finding out bugs in your smart contract, then try looking for someone who can. Professional bug bounty hunters could help you in effective rollout right from the alpha test net release phases.
- It is also important for all developers to follow a phased rollout approach. Rolling out your smart contract in phases can help in the streamlined identification of vulnerabilities. Developers should also ensure increased usage and testing with every phase to refine the smart contract quality.
Simplicity Works Wonders
More often than not, developers invite smart contract vulnerabilities by increasing the complexity of smart contracts. The complexity factor is responsible for increasing the possibility of errors. In order to ensure simple, smart contract designs, you could follow the steps mentioned below,
- The easiest way to ensure simplicity in your smart contracts is to start with simple contract logic.
- Developers could break their code into different modules to ensure that the contracts and functions are small and easy to manage.
- It is always a reasonable bet to go for clarity over performance in any case possible while designing a smart contract.
- Make the most of already available tools and code that has been already written whenever possible.
- While it is quite exciting to leverage the power of blockchain for almost every aspect of your smart contract system, it is not always favorable. Therefore, solidity best practices suggest that blockchain is suitable only for the specific parts of smart contracts that need decentralization.
Developers could improve the security standing of their smart contract design by maintaining track of all the latest developments. Here are some of the reliable approaches to help in tracking new developments in the field of security.
- Go through your contracts carefully and find out if you have any new bugs immediately as you discover them. Updating your knowledge about the latest security developments can help you identify new bugs without any issues.
- Many developers skip the notion of upgrading to the latest version of any library or tool due to efforts involved in the same. Upgrades are generally associated with bug fixes and security updates that can provide credible advantages for strengthening the security of your smart contracts.
- Another prominent mention among smart contract best practices refers to the adoption of new security techniques that are seemingly productive.
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Familiarize with Blockchain
Among all the best practices to ensure the security of solidity smart contracts, knowledge of blockchain holds paramount importance. Even if smart contract developers are likely to have profound expertise in Ethereum programming, they could experience various pitfalls. A clear impression of all the potential pitfalls with the use of blockchain in smart contracts can help developers. Here are some of the solidity best practices to improve your awareness of blockchain properties.
- It is highly important to exercise caution when it comes to external contract calls. Some external contract calls could execute malicious code alongside modifying the control flow, thereby resulting in prominent issues.
- Developers should always pay attention to block gas limits and gas costs for ensuring effective use of resources.
- Randomness is highly crucial on the blockchain, and the majority of approaches to random number generation could be easily adopted with a blockchain.
- Developers must also recognize the public functions they specify in the smart contracts are public in nature. Therefore, it is possible to encounter scenarios where public functions are called maliciously in any random order. Furthermore, developers should also keep in mind that the private data in smart contracts are easily visible to anyone.
- Another important factor regarding blockchain that you should remember in solidity security best practices is the impression of timestamps on a blockchain. Therefore, miners could easily affect the time required for executing a transaction within the gap of a few seconds.
Also Read: Ethereum Smart Contracts Ultimate Guide
Tradeoffs Required for Addressing Smart Contract Vulnerabilities
While creating smart contracts, you will come across certain basic tradeoffs that are important for evaluating the structure and security of smart contract systems. With the identification of proper balance between the fundamental tradeoffs, developers could avoid notable concerns in the design of their smart contracts. From the perspective of software engineering, a smart contract is modular, supports upgradable components, and adopts code reuse rather than duplication.
From a secure architecture perspective, smart contracts could follow such an approach. On the other hand, it is also important to take a look at different crucial exceptions to deal with smart contract security issues in cases where best practices of security and software engineering are not in alignment with each other. Developers have to make suitable tradeoffs in different cases by identifying a suitable mix of properties like in the following cases.
Monolithic and Modular Contracts
Monolithic contracts generally ensure that all the knowledge in the contracts is locally readable and identifiable. However, in cases of optimizing code review efficiency, extreme locality of data and flow in monolithic smart contracts can create issues. So, smart contract best practices for security tend to move away from software engineering best practices in modular contracts.
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Rigid and Upgradable Contracts
Upgradable patterns in smart contracts are responsible for adding complexity while increasing the potential attack surfaces. Therefore, simplicity or rigid patterns are suitable in cases where the smart contract has to work on a particular set of functionalities for a particular period of time.
Duplication and Reuse in Contracts
Solidity offers different options for code reuse by using contracts that were deployed previously in a safe manner. On the other hand, duplicity is preferred in cases where it is difficult to find self-owned previously deployed contracts.
Smart contract developers have a highly functional language in the form of Solidity with various prominent advantages. However, the various vulnerabilities associated with smart contracts call for attention towards Solidity best practices. As a matter of fact, developers should follow the general philosophy for creating smart contracts on Solidity.
Smart contracts are revolutionary entities for transforming the conventional approaches or information exchange and business transactions. Developers with formidable command over best practices in creating smart contracts by leveraging Solidity could serve as vital assets for organizations. So, start learning more about smart contract development using Solidity and take your career to greater heights now!
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Author: Diego Geroni