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Common Vulnerabilities in Solana Programs (Smart Contracts)

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Common Vulnerabilities in Solana Programs (Smart Contracts)

Solana, known for its high-performance blockchain, also comes with its unique set of challenges. Here, we’ll discuss the vulnerabilities in Solana programs (smart contracts) and how to mitigate them. Understanding and addressing these issues is crucial for developers aiming to leverage Solana's speed and efficiency while maintaining robust security.

1. Missing Ownership Checks

Always verify the AccountInfo::owner field for accounts not intended to be fully user-controlled. Use a helper function to check ownership and return a trusted type.


Solana accounts have an owner field that indicates who can write to that account’s data. Without verifying ownership, attackers can supply malicious data.


A function intended for admin use might assume an account is trusted without verifying its owner, allowing attackers to exploit this oversight. Implementing an ownership check prevents unauthorized access.

2. Missing Signer Checks

Verify that the necessary entity has signed the transaction by checking the AccountInfo::is_signer field.


Ensure that restricted instructions are signed by the appropriate entities to prevent unauthorized access.


An admin update function might miss checking if the current admin has signed the transaction, allowing attackers to replace the admin.

3. Integer Overflow & Underflow

Use checked math and checked casts to avoid unintended behavior.


Unchecked arithmetic operations can cause overflow or underflow, leading to unexpected and potentially exploitable behavior.


An overflow in withdrawal calculations could allow users to withdraw more than their balance. Using checked_add prevents this.

4. Arbitrary Signed Program Invocation

Always verify the pubkey of any program you invoke via the invoke_signed() API.

Description Users can supply arbitrary programs. Verifying the program ensures you're invoking the correct one.

Example A function invoking an unverified token program could allow attackers to execute malicious programs. Checking the program’s pubkey mitigates this risk.

  1. Solana Account Confusions

Verify that each account provided is of the expected type.


Solana accounts are just byte arrays without inherent types. Ensure accounts have the correct type and data format.


Confusion between different account types can lead to bypassed security checks. Using a type field and validating it prevents such issues.


Addressing these common vulnerabilities is crucial for maintaining the security of Solana smart contracts. While these are common pitfalls, they are not exhaustive. Continuous auditing and adherence to security best practices are essential for safeguarding assets and data on the Solana blockchain. Developers should stay informed about the latest security updates and incorporate rigorous testing procedures to protect their projects effectively.

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