Stellar Network Grinds to a Halt After Consensus Not Achieved

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Stellar is one of the most promising and undervalued projects currently out there, but last week the entire network stopped for around 2 hours after a consensus couldn’t be achieved. A number of validator nodes went offline and couldn’t reach their quorum set, meaning a number of quorum sets failed to take part in the consensus mechanism. On many blockchain networks this could lead to double spend attacks, but thanks to Stellar’s protocols it simply shut down the network.

Double Spend or Network Shutdown?

For the most part, the shutdown went relatively unnoticed by the crypto community. However, Stellar is now receiving a lot of flak for the fact it was completely down for two whole hours. Stellar is geared towards institutions and for these clients being down for two hours is unacceptable. Yet, the alternative is double spend attacks and a possible ledger reorganization. This shut down helped prevent double spend attacks, and while it was frustrating it actually protected the network – just as intended. So, you really have to weigh up the pros and cons of this temporary shutdown feature. On the one hand it’s frustrating, but it protects the network in the long run.

Learning from Mistakes

Stellar has put its hand up and admitted that it made a number of mistakes that led to the downtime, but it’s working hard to prevent these same issues from occurring again. To kick off the next batch of upgrades to the network, Stellar will be implementing better monitoring and alerting tools to notify validators that something is wrong so that they can fix their nodes faster – resulting in less downtime. Secondly, Stellar will be reducing the time and coordination required to restart nodes – meaning nodes in the stuck state can recover faster and reduce any downtime.

Quietly Patching Old Bugs

It’s great to see Stellar sticking to its promise of being open about any network issues and how it’s tackling them. Back in 2017, Stellar was hit by an attack whereby hackers exploited an inflation bug, which resulted in the printing 2.25 billion XLM tokens. Stellar kept news of this rather quiet, patched the bug and burned 2.25 million XLM tokens from its reserves – restoring order and balance to the network. Had news of this hit the media back then, it could have seriously damaged the network’s reputation.

Stellar’s Future Looks Bright

Stellar is definitely one of the most underrated projects out there, and this translates into it being undervalued. It’s hard at work forming new partnerships and developing industry-leading products. At the end of April, Stellar teamed up with Wirex who will be building 26 stablecoins on the network. On top of this, IBM is working with Stellar to create a global payment system – the Blockchain World Wire. These huge partnerships and deals have largely gone unnoticed by the crypto world, making XLM look like a rather good buy right now.

The Stellar network performed as intended, and it is now working on changing the onboarding process. The issue happened as too many new nodes took on more quorum responsibility than they should have. In a bid to prevent this from happening again, onboarding for new nodes will become easier – meaning more decentralization – and more checks will be put in place that doesn’t allow brand new nodes to be too powerful in the quorum set.