Connext and Alchemix Introduce XERC-20 Token Standard to Mitigate Bridge Exploit Losses
Cryptopolitan - Haseeb Shaheen.
- Connext and Alchemix introduce xERC-20, a new token standard to combat losses from bridge hacks in DeFi.
- The standard enables token issuers to regulate official token minting on bridges, encouraging security and minimizing risk for end-users.
In a bid to tackle the ongoing concerns surrounding bridge security in the decentralized finance (DeFi) space, Connext, a leading cross-chain bridging protocol, has partnered with Alchemix Finance, a prominent DeFi platform, to unveil a new token standard called “xERC-20.” This innovative standard proposed as Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 7281, aims to empower token issuers with greater control over the “canonical” minting of tokens, thereby minimizing losses resulting from unofficial bridge hacks.
The xERC-20 Token Standard Explained
The xERC-20 token standard, pioneered by Arjun Bhuptani, the founder of Connext, offers a practical solution to address the vulnerability posed by bridge hacks, where token issuers are typically the ones who bear the brunt of such exploits. The core principle behind the new standard is to enable token issuers to maintain a curated list of official bridges and regulate the issuance of tokens across different networks.
Under this standard, each bridge is granted the ability to mint only the “official” or “canonical” version of a particular token. However, this minting privilege is subject to permission from the token issuer, and it is enforced through smart contracts. Moreover, token issuers are granted the authority to limit the number of coins that a specific bridge can mint, offering an additional layer of control and security.
Although bridges can still create their own versions of tokens, these derivative coins would not be considered “canonical” versions. As a result, the market would naturally gravitate towards rejecting unofficial tokens, ensuring that end-users are less likely to suffer losses due to security vulnerabilities.
Advantages and Implementation of the xERC-20 Standard
The implementation of the xERC-20 token standard in Connext and Alchemix ahead of its official approval by EIP editors marks a significant step towards enhancing DeFi security. This approach ensures that users can immediately benefit from the standard’s features and protections while waiting for its potential inclusion in the Ethereum ecosystem.
Arjun Bhuptani emphasizes that the new standard fosters open competition and innovation among bridges by granting token issuers the flexibility to update their preferences for supported bridges over time. By reducing the focus on monopolizing liquidity or cornering market share, bridges are incentivized to prioritize security and improve the quality of their services. In doing so, bridges with subpar security measures or excessive centralization will face scrutiny and potential delisting, thereby promoting a safer DeFi environment.
The Recent Security Incident Amplifying the Need for the xERC-20 Standard
The urgency of addressing bridge security concerns was highlighted recently when the Multichain bridging protocol experienced mysterious withdrawals totaling over $100 million. Initially referred to as “abnormal,” it was later revealed that an unidentified individual had gained unauthorized access to the CEO’s cloud storage system, leading to the unauthorized withdrawal of funds without user consent. Incidents like these underscore the importance of implementing robust security measures, making the xERC-20 standard’s introduction a timely and crucial step in safeguarding DeFi participants.
The introduction of the xERC-20 token standard by Connext and Alchemix represents a commendable effort to tackle the pressing issue of bridge exploit losses in the DeFi space. By empowering token issuers to control the canonical minting of tokens and enforcing security measures through smart contracts, the standard offers promising solutions to protect users from potential vulnerabilities associated with unofficial bridge hacks. As the standard is implemented and tested, the hope is that it will pave the way for a safer and more secure decentralized financial ecosystem.