Exploring Security Practices of Smart Contract Developers

by   Tanusree Sharma, et al.

Smart contracts are self-executing programs that run on blockchains (e.g., Ethereum). 680 million US dollars worth of digital assets controlled by smart contracts have been hacked or stolen due to various security vulnerabilities in 2021. Although security is a fundamental concern for smart contracts, it is unclear how smart contract developers approach security. To help fill this research gap, we conducted an exploratory qualitative study consisting of a semi-structured interview and a code review task with 29 smart contract developers with diverse backgrounds, including 10 early stage (less than one year of experience) and 19 experienced (2-5 years of experience) smart contract developers. Our findings show a wide range of smart contract security perceptions and practices including various tools and resources they used. Our early-stage developer participants had a much lower success rate (15 security vulnerabilities in the code review task than their experienced counterparts (55 implies that just by accessing standard documentation, reference implementations and security tools is not sufficient. Many developers checked those materials or used a security tool but still failed to identify the security issues. In addition, several participants pointed out shortcomings of current smart contract security tooling such as its usability. We discuss how future education and tools could better support developers in ensuring smart contract security.


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