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Solana Validator Sandwich Attacks: Here's Everything That's Happened

June 10, 2024

Tim Garcia, Solana Validator Relations Lead, announced on the foundation’s Discord server that a few validators were removed from Solana's delegation program. This decision came on the heels of their involvement in sandwich attacks on Solana users.

In a sandwich attack, malicious actors look for pending transactions on blockchain networks. They end up placing two transactions around: one before and another after, triggering a sandwich.

The actors buy the underlying asset, which ends up pushing up the price. Right after, they sell it at a higher price, gaining from the manipulated price difference.

Garcia's message on Discord read,

“Decisions in this matter are final. Enforcement actions are ongoing as we detect operators participating in mempools which allow sandwich attacks.”

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Sandwich attacks are against Solana Foundation’s rules. Via a recent post on X, Mert Mumtaz, the founder of Solana-based Helius Labs explained that the foundation "does not delegate to validators who rob retail via sandwich attacks."

He added,

“Since people are abusing the system to rob retail and then keep the profits all for themselves — Solana Foundation is not interested in retail users being robbed, especially with their own stake.

Mumtaz further clarified that these operators can still do whatever they want, Solana, because it is a permissionless network. It is just that it won't be foundation subsidized henceforth.

In another recent development, Solana validators voted in favor of SIMD-0096, a proposal to allocate full priority fees to validators. The proposal was set in motion and voted upon to pull the plug on “side deals.”

Over 77.7% of the validators - including Solend, Jito, Helius, Bonk, Stakehaus, and Everstake - advocated the proposal. Triton, Step Finance, and Solana Compass were among the remaining ones who objected.

With validators set to pocket the entire priority fee going forward, it should be noted that the 50% base fee burn mechanism will still be in play. SIMD-0096 will not go live on the mainnet right off the bat. Implementation is expected to take a few months.

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