Blockchain security is paramount in the digital age, where decentralized networks promise unprecedented trust and efficiency. As the backbone of cryptocurrencies and myriad decentralized applications (dApps), blockchain's security challenges are as diverse as its applications. From protecting smart contracts to thwarting malicious attacks like 51% assaults and Sybil attacks, the landscape demands robust solutions. Ensuring blockchain security involves leveraging cryptography, consensus mechanisms, and rigorous auditing protocols. As blockchain technology continues to evolve, so too must its defenses against vulnerabilities and threats. Understanding these complexities is crucial for organizations and developers navigating the intricate intersection of innovation and safeguarding assets.

What is blockchain security?

Blockchain security involves the application of cybersecurity principles, tools, and best practices to mitigate risks and prevent malicious attacks and unauthorized access within blockchain networks.

Although all blockchains utilize distributed ledger technology (DLT), they differ significantly in functionality and security. Public and private blockchains each have unique advantages and disadvantages, with their security models fundamentally shaped by the open or closed nature of their networks.

Public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum operate on open, permissionless networks where anyone can join and validate transactions. These networks rely on open-source codebases, which are publicly available and continuously scrutinized by a community of developers for bugs, vulnerabilities, and other issues. This collective vetting enhances the security, functionality, and efficiency of the blockchain. However, the transparency of open-source code also means that hackers and malicious entities are constantly probing for exploitable vulnerabilities.

In summary, blockchain security is a multifaceted domain, shaped by the specific characteristics of public and private networks. Understanding these differences is crucial for implementing effective security strategies in blockchain environments.

Responsibility for security

In a public blockchain, security responsibility is decentralized. Although the founders are responsible for the initial code and may guide network progress through active participation, the broader security of the blockchain is a collective effort. Validators, node operators, and a vast array of developers play crucial roles in maintaining network integrity. Users also contribute by practicing good security hygiene. This distributed responsibility model makes public blockchains resilient against various types of attacks, as no single entity holds sole control over security.

Public blockchains typically have dedicated organizations or foundations that promote development and community engagement. For instance, the Ethereum Foundation supports the Ethereum network. Even Bitcoin, introduced by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, has a team of maintainers continuously updating and improving the Bitcoin Core software. Public blockchains require regular maintenance and updates to address bugs and adapt to evolving circumstances. Proposed changes to the network, such as Bitcoin Improvement Proposals (BIPs), must be accepted by consensus, ensuring a democratic and transparent development process.

Private blockchains operate on exclusive networks with restricted access, leading to a more centralized structure. This centralization can enhance resistance to certain external threats, as securing the blockchain falls entirely on the operating entity. The centralized control, however, introduces a single point of failure, necessitating robust security measures by the institution.

While private blockchains may not benefit from the decentralized security advantages of public blockchains, they offer increased speed and efficiency due to reduced computational demands for consensus algorithms. However, the entity controlling access also has the power to alter or shut down the network, introducing a unique security risk absent in public blockchains.

Most common blockchain security breaches

Sybil Attack

In a Sybil attack, a malicious actor targets the peer-to-peer layer of the network to gain control of multiple nodes, potentially disrupting network operations.

51% or Double-Spending Attack

This attack targets the consensus layer of Proof-of-Work blockchains. If an entity controls more than 50% of the network's mining power, they can attempt to double-spend coins and censor transactions, undermining the blockchain’s integrity.

Bridge Attacks

Blockchain bridges, which facilitate asset transfers between different blockchains, are critical but vulnerable components of the DeFi ecosystem. They store significant amounts of assets and are often targeted by hackers. Data shows that bridge attacks account for 70% of crypto cyberattacks.

Layer 2 Vulnerabilities

Layer 2 solutions, while addressing scalability issues, introduce their own risks. These include transaction censoring and DoS attacks targeting rollup providers, which handle transaction batching off-chain.

Protocol Hacks and Exploits

In the DeFi space, protocol hacks can result in substantial financial losses. Despite regular security audits, complex financial instruments are prone to overlooked vulnerabilities. The BadgerDAO hack, where $120 million was stolen, highlights the severity of these risks.

Small Node Networks

Blockchains with fewer nodes are more susceptible to ecosystem attacks compared to large, well-distributed networks. For instance, Sybil attacks and 51% attacks are nearly impossible on blockchains like Bitcoin or Ethereum due to the massive computational power required. However, these risks are significant for smaller or emerging blockchains.

Centralization Risks

Despite the goal of decentralization, public blockchains can experience centralization due to factors like mining pools. Centralized infrastructure, such as blockchain nodes run on services like Amazon Web Services, poses additional risks. If these services are targeted, it could centralize the network further and increase vulnerability to attacks.

Blockchain Network Congestion

Network congestion occurs when there are insufficient validators to process transactions, leading to delays and higher fees. Severe congestion can result in downtime and instability, undermining confidence in the network's resilience.

Cloud Abuse

When users sign up for cloud services and provide credit card information, they can become targets for spam emails, malicious attacks, and unauthorized charges. This initial vulnerability stems from insufficient security measures during the registration process.

While not all cloud providers are the same, many lack robust security protocols to manage registrations securely, leading to widespread abuse. Enhancing these security measures is essential to protect user information and maintain trust in cloud services.

Blockchain Custody, Security, and Reporting Solutions

Custodial vs. Non-Custodial Blockchain Solutions

Non-Custodial Solutions. Non-custodial solutions, such as decentralized wallets, provide users with greater control and autonomy over their assets. Users manage their own private keys, which enhances security by reducing reliance on third parties. However, this also increases personal responsibility for security measures. If private keys are lost or compromised, users risk losing access to their assets without any recourse.

Custodial Solutions. Many institutions prefer custodial solutions, where a trusted third party holds assets and facilitates transactions, much like a traditional bank. While this approach diminishes some peer-to-peer advantages of cryptocurrency, it offers institutional-grade security and often includes insurance against platform-level hacks and exploits. However, users must still practice good security hygiene, such as using multi-factor authentication, as custodians typically do not insure against theft due to individual account breaches.

Blockchain Security and Intelligence Solutions

As digital currencies gain mainstream acceptance, robust security solutions for monitoring transactions and combating crypto-related crimes are increasingly vital for businesses, law enforcement, financial institutions, and regulators. These tools signify the maturing blockchain ecosystem's commitment to enhancing operational security and promoting widespread adoption.

Blockchain Forensics. Blockchain forensics involves analyzing blockchain data to detect suspicious activities, trace illicit funds, and ensure regulatory compliance. Companies like Chainalysis specialize in these forensic activities, helping organizations maintain security and transparency. Additionally, incident response retainers are available to provide immediate intervention and collaboration with law enforcement in the event of a hack, aiding in the recovery of stolen assets.

Blockchain Reporting Solutions

Accurate documentation of financial transactions and key operational actions is crucial for audit trails, compliance, and legal purposes. While manual accounting remains an option, leveraging specialized crypto accounting software can streamline the process, reduce human error, and enhance overall operational efficiency. These technological solutions ensure that businesses meet regulatory standards while efficiently managing their financial records.

Popular blockchain security tools in 2024


Chainalysis is a leading cryptocurrency analytics software that helps financial institutions and regulators prevent illegal activities such as extortion and money laundering. It features tools like Chainalysis Reactor for detailed investigation of crypto transactions and Chainalysis KYT for compliance monitoring. Its intuitive interface is designed to align with anti-money laundering workflows, making it an indispensable tool for blockchain security.

Beosin Eagle Eye Platform

Beosin Eagle Eye is a premier blockchain security tool offering continuous monitoring and real-time notifications for various blockchain networks. It alerts customers to security risks such as flash loans or hacks, ensuring swift identification of high-risk transactions. By utilizing both off-chain and on-chain data analysis along with multi-dimensional security assessments, Beosin Eagle Eye significantly enhances blockchain security.


Harpie is an on-chain firewall that protects blockchain users against theft, hacks, and scams. It monitors wallets multiple times per second and halts transactions if foul play is detected. Harpie also maintains a large database of malicious addresses to prevent security breaches and offers extensive resources on web3 scams.

ConsenSys Diligence

ConsenSys Diligence provides comprehensive smart contract audit services, aiding in the deployment and maintenance of Ethereum-based dApps and smart contracts. It features advanced blockchain security tools for thorough analysis and hands-on review, facilitating early detection of vulnerabilities during the development process. The platform also offers a detailed vulnerability report with recommendations for risk mitigation, making it an essential tool for developers.


Elliptic provides trusted crypto compliance services, focusing on managing financial crime risks and ensuring regulatory compliance. It offers blockchain analytics for over 100 different crypto assets, providing accurate insights for regulatory compliance and AML monitoring. Elliptic helps build trust between regulators, partners, stakeholders, and customers by enhancing blockchain security.


Established in January 2018, SlowMist has become a prominent tool for defending against blockchain security threats. It offers integrated threat detection solutions and leverages extensive cybersecurity experience to serve top blockchain projects worldwide. SlowMist's unique approach to threat detection ensures robust protection against blockchain security issues.


Hacken provides comprehensive penetration tests to safeguard blockchain applications against vulnerabilities. It offers audits for smart contracts, online transaction management, and asset ownership management, addressing key security challenges. Hacken's extensive audits help blockchain solutions withstand prominent security issues, making it a vital tool for blockchain security.


Forta is a decentralized monitoring network that detects real-time threats in web3 systems. It uses machine learning to generate insights about scams, exploits, and other threats, supported by a community of web3 security experts. Forta's tools, such as the Scam Detector and Attack Detector bots, provide real-time alerts and custom detection capabilities for DeFi developers.

Trail of Bits

Trail of Bits is a leading blockchain auditing platform, known for creating open-source web3 security tools. It helps strengthen smart contract security and manages contract storage, identifying potential vulnerabilities in blockchain and web3. Trail of Bits also develops industry-leading tools like Slither for web3 developers.

Pocket Universe

Pocket Universe is a blockchain security tool that ensures asset safety during transaction signing. Available as a free browser extension, it helps users understand which assets are transferred with their signatures and provides up to $2000 insurance if assets are lost under its protection. With over 60,000 users and analyzing more than 100,000 signatures daily, Pocket Universe is a crucial tool for blockchain security.

Arbitrary Execution

Arbitrary Execution offers continuous security solutions for safeguarding web3 protocols, users, and their assets. Its team of security researchers leverages their expertise and attacker mindset to enhance blockchain security. The platform also features continuous blockchain monitoring and the Web3 SDLC framework for integrating security into the web3 development lifecycle.


SharkTeam provides smart contract audits, incident response, and chain analytics services. It ensures web3 security with the expertise of senior researchers and security experts, offering comprehensive protection for blockchain solutions. SharkTeam's effective security measures make it a top choice for blockchain security.


ChainAegis offers real-time monitoring and notifications for blockchain transactions through its on-chain security analysis tool. It uses extensive address labeling to identify specific risks like ransomware and fraud, providing round-the-clock address monitoring and customized monitoring rules for distinct requirements.

ERC-20 Verifier

ERC-20 Verifier, offered by OpenZeppelin, helps confirm smart contracts' adherence to the ERC-20 format. It scans known smart contracts and provides developers with detailed insights into the underlying logic, ensuring compliance and enhancing security.


MythX focuses on EVM smart contract security analysis. It integrates with popular IDEs like Remix and Truffle, enhancing the security pipeline before and after deploying smart contracts. MythX uses fuzzing to identify Solidity code vulnerabilities, ensuring secure smart contract deployment.

Regulatory and Legal Considerations

As blockchain technology integrates into mainstream use, global leaders face the challenge of balancing innovation with regulation. Ensuring compliance with existing laws, such as anti-money laundering (AML), consumer protection, sanctions compliance, and tax and reporting requirements, is essential. However, overregulation can stifle innovation, making it crucial to uphold blockchain security and integrity while fostering a conducive environment for growth.

Regulations for digital assets are still evolving, but compliance is mandatory. Staying informed about current laws and reporting requirements in your jurisdiction is crucial. Collaboration with legal and compliance teams is often necessary to ensure all activities align with regulatory standards. Reducing barriers to entry and assuring institutions of their security and compliance is key to achieving mass adoption. Companies like Chainalysis have risen to meet these challenges, offering solutions such as free sanctions screening, on-chain oracles and APIs, and continuous transaction monitoring to help organizations navigate the complex regulatory landscape effectively.


In conclusion, blockchain security stands at the forefront of technological advancements, necessitating continuous innovation and vigilance. From the resilience of public blockchains to the controlled environments of private networks, each presents unique challenges and solutions. The evolution of security tools like smart contract audits, blockchain forensics, and real-time monitoring underscores a proactive approach to mitigating risks. Compliance with regulatory frameworks, while fostering innovation, remains pivotal for mainstream adoption. As the ecosystem matures, collaboration among stakeholders—developers, regulators, and users—will shape the future landscape of secure blockchain applications. Embracing these principles ensures a resilient foundation for the decentralized future.


Are blockchains vulnerable to security threats?

Yes, blockchains face various security threats like 51% attacks, smart contract vulnerabilities, and phishing. Robust security measures are essential to mitigate these risks.

What are the top tools for blockchain security?

Top tools include Chainalysis for transaction monitoring, Consensys Diligence for smart contract audits, and Beosin Eagle Eye for real-time security monitoring. These tools help detect and prevent security breaches effectively.