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The Solana Foundation initiated severe action against a series of “Sandwich Attacks” that took place on the network. According to the Foundation, one of these measures was to remove validators who were involved in the attack from its delegation program.

This decision, described as final, was announced by Tim Garcia, Solana validator relations lead, on the Foundation’s Discord server.

Sandwich Attack

In a sandwich attack, a malicious trader chooses a network to attack. It then searches the blockchain for a pending transaction. Upon finding it, the trader places an order before the pending transaction and another immediately after. This way, the transaction is “squeezed”, which gives the name of the attack

The attacker will position the first pending transaction between a front-run and a back-run, both occurring simultaneously, to manipulate the asset’s price. If he manages to carry out this manipulation, he can profit from the difference to the detriment of other operators.

Mert Mumtaz, co-founder of the RPC Helius provider, explained that the Solana Foundation’s measure aims to protect network users from these exploitative practices. According to Mumtaz, the sandwich attack could cause huge losses to investors.

Alert given by the Solana Foundation

On May 7, 2024, the Solana Foundation had already explicitly prohibited this type of attack. However, team members confirmed that some validators carried out a sandwich attack as recently as last week.

In light of the case, Garcia emphasized the Foundation’s unwavering stance against the attack and took the initiative to expel the offenders.

“Operators involved in malicious activities, such as participating in a private mempool to sandwich attack transactions or otherwise harming Solana users, will not be tolerated by the delegation program,” he explained.

Furthermore, Garcia highlighted that the Solana Foundation would take similar actions if the problem persists in the future. In other words, if the attacks continue, they will continue to expel validators from the network.

The Solana Foundation Delegation Program was established to help validators operate effectively by delegating SOL tokens to them. Consequently, it eliminates the need for validators to hold a significant amount of tokens themselves.

Validators are chosen based on their performance, but their participation requires adherence to specific expectations and best practices. And one of these practices is to avoid actions and scams that harm Solana’s activity.

What has changed for these validators?

Despite the removal of the delegation program, validators involved in sandwich attacks can still contribute to the blockchain. However, they will no longer receive SOL from the program, which in practice eliminates their financial incentive.

When validators manipulate the order of transactions to maximize profits, the network as a whole suffers from profitability problems. As a result, the validators who execute the action benefit from the changes, but other users may have to pay more to buy SOL, for example.

Garcia’s announcement highlighted the Foundation’s commitment to enforcing rules against such exploitative practices. The goal is to maintain a fair and trustworthy environment for all Solana users. By removing support from the validators involved in these attacks, the foundation hopes to prevent future malicious activity and maintain the integrity of the network.

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