Security Threat Mitigation For Smart Contracts: A Survey


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The blockchain technology has been used for recording state transitions of smart contracts - decentralized applications that can be invoked through external transactions. Smart contracts gained popularity and accrued hundreds of billions of dollars in market capitalization in recent years. Unfortunately, like all other programs, smart contracts are prone to security vulnerabilities that have incurred multimillion-dollar damages over the past decade. As a result, many automated threat mitigation solutions have been proposed to counter the security issues of smart contracts. These threat mitigation solutions include various tools and methods that are challenging to compare. This survey develops a comprehensive classification taxonomy of smart contract threat mitigation solutions within five orthogonal dimensions: defense modality, core method, targeted contracts, input-output data mapping, and threat model. We classify 133 existing threat mitigation solutions using our taxonomy and confirm that the proposed five dimensions allow us to concisely and accurately describe any smart contract threat mitigation solution. In addition to learning what the threat mitigation solutions do, we also show how these solutions work by synthesizing their actual designs into a set of uniform workflows corresponding to the eight existing defense core methods. We further create an integrated coverage map for the known smart contract vulnerabilities by the existing threat mitigation solutions. Finally, we perform the evidence-based evolutionary analysis, in which we identify trends and future perspectives of threat mitigation in smart contracts and pinpoint major weaknesses of the existing methodologies. For the convenience of smart contract security developers, auditors, users, and researchers, we deploy a regularly updated comprehensive open-source online registry of threat mitigation solutions.
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