OP Labs Introduces Crucial ‘Fault Proofs’ to Enhance Blockchain Security

Last Updated on 22 mins by Ali Raza

In a long-awaited development, blockchain developer OP Labs has finally introduced “fault proofs,” a crucial security feature that was notably absent from its OP Stack software—a blueprint used by Coinbase for its new Base blockchain. This missing security feature had drawn criticism, with experts likening it to driving a fast car without airbags.

Approximately a year ago, OP Labs released software that facilitated the creation of distributed networks on the Ethereum blockchain, quickly gaining popularity among companies. Coinbase was among the prominent players that embraced this platform to construct its Base blockchain.

However, in recent months, technical experts began to emphasize a significant flaw in the OP Labs software: the absence of “fault proofs.” These fault proofs are considered a fundamental component of the system’s functionality.

OP Labs had expressed its commitment to implementing fault proofs, even assigning a dedicated project name, “Cannon,” to this endeavor. The absence of this security feature was likened to the risk associated with driving a fast car without airbags.

On a positive note, OP Labs recently took a significant step toward addressing these concerns by launching fault proofs on a test network known as the OP Goerli Testnet.

Fault proofs, sometimes referred to as fraud proofs, are integral to optimistic rollup technology. This technology connects layer-2 blockchains, known as “rollups,” with primary layer-1 blockchains like Ethereum. It plays a crucial role in validating the trustworthiness of data from the rollup.

Nonetheless, projects relying on this technology are still in various stages of development. For instance, Arbitrum, another optimistic rollup, currently relies on a limited number of designated validators to handle fraud proofs. Still, it aims to expand into a “permissionless” system.

Optimism, a layer-2 blockchain built on Ethereum that served as a model for OP Stack’s software, initially deployed fault proofs on its main network but later removed them due to security concerns, according to Karl Floersch, the CEO of OP Labs.

Floersch explained, “Essentially, what we did was we built an initial version, recognized its unsustainability, went back to the drawing board, reimagined the system, and now, a year and a half later, we’re beginning to see the results of those design decisions.”

Some blockchain experts argue that rollup technology without fault proofs poses security risks, as transactions may be unsafe or susceptible to spoofing.

The deployment of fault proofs on the test network is the first step toward their implementation in the OP Stack software. OP Labs has also expressed its intention to incorporate “zero-knowledge” proofs, leveraging cryptographic technology as an alternative to fault proofs.

Martin Köppelmann, a veteran Ethereum developer and co-founder of the Gnosis blockchain, had previously voiced concerns, noting that until fault proofs were added, funds in the Optimism and Base bridges could potentially be compromised.

Floersch acknowledged this criticism but asserted that addressing governance and decentralization was a prerequisite before shipping fault proofs. To achieve “stage 2 decentralization,” OP Labs outlined plans in February to decentralize certain aspects of the network’s architecture.

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