Informal Systems, a Cosmos-based development company, has released the first preview of the new shared security model to be added to the Cosmos ecosystem. In addition to ensuring the security of Cosmos blockchains, this model will also make the process of launching a blockchain much easier and more accessible.
We dig deeper into the informal systems model dubbed “cross-chain security” and the impact it will have on the Cosmos ecosystem.
Sharing security on Cosmos, one blockchain at a time
The introduction of Proof-of-Stake (PoS) networks revolutionized the blockchain space, allowing users to secure the network with their token stake, rather than the hash rate. The larger the network and the more valuable its token, the more secure it is – as more value is put into play, it becomes more difficult for bad actors to carry out attacks.
However, small and emerging PoS blockchains are struggling with low market capitalization and low amount of resources. A low number of stakers and a small amount of staked value makes the network more vulnerable to attackers, affecting its position in the market.
The Cosmos ecosystem was designed to be the “internet of blockchains” and facilitate a network of interconnected and interoperable networks built on the same infrastructure. The Cosmos Hub then shares security with other blockchains, lending its capital to be used for block validation on smaller chains.
Various blockchain networks have adopted various types of shared security, including optimistic rollups, zk rollups, and sharding. Interchain Security is the Cosmos-specific shared security category built using the Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol.
Interchain security is coming to Cosmos 🚀
Check it out 👇 https://t.co/ngdGO2RkpJ
— Cosmos – Internet of Blockchains ⚛️ (@cosmos) February 2, 2022
Simply put, Interchain Security allows the Cosmos Hub to be in charge of producing blocks for a consumer chain. This is done by allowing its validators to run two nodes, one for the Cosmos Hub and one for the consumer chain. To participate in consumption chains, validators are required to stake ATOM tokens.
Any evidence of downtime or misbehavior on the consumer chain is immediately sent to the provider chain, where the staked ATOM tokens can be destroyed using a mechanism called “slashing”.
The Inter Blockchain (IBC) communication protocol is used by the consumer chain to communicate with Cosmos Hub and keep track of validators who participate in the Interchain security system and report any downtime.
Informal Systems, the development company behind Interchain Security, today announced that it is nearing completion of the first release of its Cosmos-specific shared security. Interchain Security v1 is expected to be fully completed by the end of this quarter and officially launched on Cosmos in Q2 2022.
V1 will allow anyone to launch a blockchain using the same set of validators as the Cosmos Hub by making a governance proposal. If the Cosmos community accepts the proposal, the consumer chain launches and immediately inherits the full security of the Cosmos Hub.
Why is Interchain Security so important?
While the Cosmos ecosystem has been around for a while, hitting dozens of milestones along the way, the launch of Interchain Security might be its biggest update yet.
The value that Interchain Security brings to Cosmos goes far beyond simply increasing network security. It manages to bring together different groups of users and reduce conflicts of interest between them.
First, Interchain Security will enable Practical Hub Minimalism, a strategic philosophy driving the Cosmos Hub, without sacrificing the efficiency of the platform. Practical hub minimalism, as the name suggests, is a belief that the Cosmos hub should have as few features as possible. This, according to its proponents, removes security vulnerabilities and reduces the risk of conflict of interest between user groups that could lead to a hard fork.
As the current Cosmos Hub is constantly adding new features, many of its users are concerned that network security may be compromised. Interchain Security will be able to satisfy these “minimalist hubs” by allowing each of these features to become a separate chain.
These separate chains could then be programmed to have their own governance tokens and fees, incentivizing validators to participate.
And with more channels joining the Cosmos ecosystem, the more costly it becomes for bad actors to manipulate the network. As the security of a network is often measured by the cost of attacking it, the more value is invested in Cosmos, the more secure it becomes. Interchain Security will also allow the Cosmos Hub to connect the value of the ATOM token to its consumer chains. This means that any potential bad actor should also consider ATOM’s market capitalization when attacking a consumer chain.
“Interchain Security allows Cosmos to stay true to its philosophy of sovereignty and open source and enables blockchains to integrate economically but not politically,” Cosmos developers explained in a blog post last year.
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