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ADR 008: Decentralized Computer Emergency Response Team (dCERT) Group


  • 2019 Jul 31: Initial Draft


In order to reduce the number of parties involved with handling sensitive information in an emergency scenario, we propose the creation of a specialization group named The Decentralized Computer Emergency Response Team (dCERT). Initially this group's role is intended to serve as coordinators between various actors within a blockchain community such as validators, bug-hunters, and developers. During a time of crisis, the dCERT group would aggregate and relay input from a variety of stakeholders to the developers who are actively devising a patch to the software, this way sensitive information does not need to be publicly disclosed while some input from the community can still be gained.

Additionally, a special privilege is proposed for the dCERT group: the capacity to "circuit-break" (aka. temporarily disable) a particular message path. Note that this privilege should be enabled/disabled globally with a governance parameter such that this privilege could start disabled and later be enabled through a parameter change proposal, once a dCERT group has been established.

In the future it is foreseeable that the community may wish to expand the roles of dCERT with further responsibilities such as the capacity to "pre-approve" a security update on behalf of the community prior to a full community wide vote whereby the sensitive information would be revealed prior to a vulnerability being patched on the live network.


The dCERT group is proposed to include an implementation of a SpecializationGroup as defined in ADR 007. This will include the implementation of:

  • continuous voting
  • slashing due to breach of soft contract
  • revoking a member due to breach of soft contract
  • emergency disband of the entire dCERT group (ex. for colluding maliciously)
  • compensation stipend from the community pool or other means decided by governance

This system necessitates the following new parameters:

  • blockly stipend allowance per dCERT member
  • maximum number of dCERT members
  • required staked slashable tokens for each dCERT member
  • quorum for suspending a particular member
  • proposal wager for disbanding the dCERT group
  • stabilization period for dCERT member transition
  • circuit break dCERT privileges enabled

These parameters are expected to be implemented through the param keeper such that governance may change them at any given point.

Continuous Voting Electionator

An Electionator object is to be implemented as continuous voting and with the following specifications:

  • All delegation addresses may submit votes at any point which updates their preferred representation on the dCERT group.
  • Preferred representation may be arbitrarily split between addresses (ex. 50% to John, 25% to Sally, 25% to Carol)
  • In order for a new member to be added to the dCERT group they must send a transaction accepting their admission at which point the validity of their admission is to be confirmed.
    • A sequence number is assigned when a member is added to dCERT group. If a member leaves the dCERT group and then enters back, a new sequence number is assigned.
  • Addresses which control the greatest amount of preferred-representation are eligible to join the dCERT group (up the maximum number of dCERT members). If the dCERT group is already full and new member is admitted, the existing dCERT member with the lowest amount of votes is kicked from the dCERT group.
    • In the split situation where the dCERT group is full but a vying candidate has the same amount of vote as an existing dCERT member, the existing member should maintain its position.
    • In the split situation where somebody must be kicked out but the two addresses with the smallest number of votes have the same number of votes, the address with the smallest sequence number maintains its position.
  • A stabilization period can be optionally included to reduce the "flip-flopping" of the dCERT membership tail members. If a stabilization period is provided which is greater than 0, when members are kicked due to insufficient support, a queue entry is created which documents which member is to replace which other member. While this entry is in the queue, no new entries to kick that same dCERT member can be made. When the entry matures at the duration of the stabilization period, the new member is instantiated, and old member kicked.


All members of the dCERT group must stake tokens specifically to maintain eligibility as a dCERT member. These tokens can be staked directly by the vying dCERT member or out of the good will of a 3rd party (who shall gain no on-chain benefits for doing so). This staking mechanism should use the existing global unbonding time of tokens staked for network validator security. A dCERT member can only be a member if it has the required tokens staked under this mechanism. If those tokens are unbonded then the dCERT member must be automatically kicked from the group.

Slashing of a particular dCERT member due to soft-contract breach should be performed by governance on a per member basis based on the magnitude of the breach. The process flow is anticipated to be that a dCERT member is suspended by the dCERT group prior to being slashed by governance.

Membership suspension by the dCERT group takes place through a voting procedure by the dCERT group members. After this suspension has taken place, a governance proposal to slash the dCERT member must be submitted, if the proposal is not approved by the time the rescinding member has completed unbonding their tokens, then the tokens are no longer staked and unable to be slashed.

Additionally in the case of an emergency situation of a colluding and malicious dCERT group, the community needs the capability to disband the entire dCERT group and likely fully slash them. This could be achieved though a special new proposal type (implemented as a general governance proposal) which would halt the functionality of the dCERT group until the proposal was concluded. This special proposal type would likely need to also have a fairly large wager which could be slashed if the proposal creator was malicious. The reason a large wager should be required is because as soon as the proposal is made, the capability of the dCERT group to halt message routes is put on temporarily suspended, meaning that a malicious actor who created such a proposal could then potentially exploit a bug during this period of time, with no dCERT group capable of shutting down the exploitable message routes.

dCERT membership transactions

Active dCERT members

  • change of the description of the dCERT group
  • circuit break a message route
  • vote to suspend a dCERT member.

Here circuit-breaking refers to the capability to disable a groups of messages, This could for instance mean: "disable all staking-delegation messages", or "disable all distribution messages". This could be accomplished by verifying that the message route has not been "circuit-broken" at CheckTx time (in baseapp/baseapp.go).

"unbreaking" a circuit is anticipated only to occur during a hard fork upgrade meaning that no capability to unbreak a message route on a live chain is required.

Note also, that if there was a problem with governance voting (for instance a capability to vote many times) then governance would be broken and should be halted with this mechanism, it would be then up to the validator set to coordinate and hard-fork upgrade to a patched version of the software where governance is re-enabled (and fixed). If the dCERT group abuses this privilege they should all be severely slashed.





  • Potential to reduces the number of parties to coordinate with during an emergency
  • Reduction in possibility of disclosing sensitive information to malicious parties


  • Centralization risks



Specialization Groups ADR