Solana cracks down on validator sandwich attacks

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The Solana Foundation has removed a group of validator operators from its delegation program due to their involvement in sandwich attacks on traders. 

Validators identified via memepool

In a sandwich attack, a malicious trader searches the network of their choice, such as Ethereum, for a pending transaction. Sandwiching occurs by placing one order before the transaction and another immediately after.

The attacker will position the first pending transaction between a front-run and a back-run, both occurring simultaneously, to manipulate the asset’s price and profit from the difference.

This attack guarantees that retail investors always receive the worst possible price while the attacker extracts all the profit for themselves.

The validator operators were identified due to their participation in mempools, which allow sandwich attacks. The decision was based on the Solana Foundation rules prohibiting validators from malicious activity. The guilty validators won’t be assigned any delegation work moving forward.

Solana validator relations lead Tim Garcia took to Discord to announce the removal of validators and said that operators engaging in malicious activities, including “participating in a private mempool to sandwich attack transactions or otherwise harming Solana users will not be tolerated by the delegation program.” Gracia added:

“Anyone found engaging in such activity will be rejected from the program, and any stake from the Foundation will be immediately and permanently removed.”

Solana Foundation Delegration Program

The Solana Foundation Delegation Program was established to relieve validators of the burden of holding a significant number of tokens by assigning them Solana’s (SOL) tokens.

Delegation allows users to assign staking rights to a stake pool or validator. Validators, in turn, are in charge of creating blocks and verifying transactions. These validators are selected based on their performance.

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Thus, validators using third-party meme pools to scam retail users out of money is unacceptable. Mert Mumtaz, the co-founder of Solana remote procedure call provider Helius, explained the issues with operators looking to profit from retail users in an X post. He said certain operators have added mods to their validators to enable sandwiching on Solana.

Mumtaz added that the Solana Foundation delegates SOL to validators to help them get started. The Solana Foundation says it is committed to preventing retail users from being exploited by those who abuse the system for personal gain. It is particularly concerned about protecting users from losing their investments due to such fraudulent activities.

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