What Is Slashing?

Slashing is a penalty mechanism implemented in Proof of Stake (PoS) networks to ensure accountability and discourage malicious behavior.

It involves penalizing and fining validators who violate the network‘s rules or fail to fulfill their responsibilities.

In a PoS system, validators are responsible for securing the network by staking their cryptocurrency as collateral.

They are rewarded for honest and accurate validation of transactions, but they can also face penalties for misconduct.

How Does Slashing Work?

The specifics of slashing can vary depending on the network.

If a validator is found to have acted maliciously or negligently, they can be slashed.

If an active participant in the network identifies a validator’s offense, they can create an infringement statement and include it in a new block.

The validator’s punishment may involve invalidating their validator ID and imposing a fine, a percentage of their staked amount.

The severity of the penalty can depend on factors such as the number of validators involved in the offense.

The person who reports the offense, often called a whistleblower, is rewarded with a fraction of the collected penalties.

What Causes Slashing?

Different types of misconduct or violations can trigger slashing.

Common reasons for slashing include:

  • Double signing: A validator signs multiple conflicting blocks for the same time slot.
  • Validator downtime: When a validator fails to perform their duties or goes offline for an extended period.

In cases of double signing, the penalty can be more severe, sometimes reaching a higher percentage of the staked amount, while downtime penalties are typically more minor.

How to Prevent Slashing?

To avoid being slashed, validators should follow best practices and adhere to the network’s rules.

Some preventive measures include:

  • Avoiding simultaneous use of identical validating keys in multiple places, as this increases the risk of double signing.
  • Accepting downtime and avoiding complex or over-engineered validator setups.
  • Considering backup options for technical glitches without compromising the network’s security.

By being diligent and cautious, validators can reduce the chances of being penalized through slashing.