A Mechanism to Detect and Prevent Ethereum Blockchain Smart Contract Reentrancy Attacks
journal contributionposted on 22.07.2021, 05:04 by Ayman Alkhalifah, Alex Ng, Paul A Watters, A S M KayesA S M Kayes
In Ethereum blockchain, smart contracts are immutable, public, and distributed. However, they are subject to many vulnerabilities stemming from coding errors made by developers. Seven cybersecurity incidents occurred in Ethereum smart contracts between 2016 and 2018, which led to financial losses estimated to be over US$ 289 million. Reentrancy vulnerability was the cause of two of these incidents, and the impacts went far beyond financial loss. Several reentrancy countermeasures are available, which are based on predefined patterns that are used to prevent vulnerability exploitation before the deployment of a smart contract; however, several limitations have been identified in these countermeasures. Motivated by all these issues, the objective of this article is to help developers improve the cybersecurity of smart contracts by proposing a solution that calculates the difference between the contract balance and the total balance of all participants in a smart contract before and after any operation in a transaction that changes its state. Proof-of-concept implementations show that this solution can provide a detection and prevention mechanism against reentrancy attacks during the execution of any smart contract.