The recent cyber attack on decentralized finance protocol Curve may not be as simple as it first appears. Clues left in the high-profile digital theft have led some to suspect it may have been the work of state-backed hackers.
The claim was first made by a respected contributor to the smart contract language Vyper, who goes by the online pseudonym @fubuloubu. The anonymous developer said the complexity of the vulnerability and the time it took to identify and exploit it indicated the level of resources and expertise that could be associated with state actors.
“Just identifying the bug would have taken weeks to months, probably with a small group or team,” @fubuloubu said. “Given the time and resources necessary, it makes sense that we are dealing with state-sponsored hackers, and even It might be possible.”
An interesting point is that the hackers chose to start with Vyper. Known for its small code base and easy-to-read format, Vyper has a lean history, making it an attractive starting point for potential attackers. Competitor Solidity, by contrast, has a larger codebase and thus can analyze and leverage a broader history.
However, Vyper’s choice also portends a deeper problem. Compilers like Vyper, despite their fundamental importance, are not as thoroughly audited or vetted as one might think. Many compilers undergo frequent breaking changes, which according to @fubuloubu can create bugs and make auditing difficult.
This situation reveals a larger systemic problem: the lack of incentives to identify critical bugs in compilers (especially older versions). Due to their lack of motivation, these compilers are easily exploited, compromising the entire system they run on.
Despite the frustrating situation, the Vyper community has not lost its spirit. @fubuloubu et al are using this setback as a catalyst for change, calling for collective action to prevent similar security breaches in the future.
A proposed bounty program co-sponsored by Vyper users could greatly incentivize the detection and resolution of critical bugs, enhancing the overall security of the system.
“This is not the end of Vyper or Curve,” @fubuloubu said, emphasizing that solving these problems will require unity and cooperation. “We need to come together to address public goods like these.”
Indeed, the incident highlights the importance of strong, community-driven security efforts in decentralized finance. The response to such an attack could prove to be a pivotal moment for smart contract languages like Vyper, highlighting the need for rigorous security audits, community engagement, and effective incentive programs.