Hack the DEX - a BitShares Bug Bounty Program (2019)
Name/bfid 201904-hackthedex
Category Bug Bounty
Freelancer Blockchain Projects BV & Ryan Fox - Blockchain Projects BV
Total up to $250,000 bitUSD
Duration 2019/04/27 - 2020/04/27 (1 year)
Worker ID 1.14.186
Accounting & Reporting workers.bitshares.foundation/201904-hackthedex


HackTheDex bounty program was started in July 2018 and is consequently renewed now. Several reports that could have caused harm to the community have been submitted and fixed through HackTheDex, proof for its necessity and value. Those reports included several possibilities for an attacker to cause a chain halt, cause theft of funds and other severe attacks. An overview can be found here:


In agreement with the BBF this proposal is asking to move over all remaining funds from the last worker into this new worker and adjust the daily BTS payout accordingly. The move over will only happen if this proposal stays active for a consecutive 7 days. Including pending payouts of the last worker, that means that 1,433,812.15112 BTS (~86011.52 bitUSD at 16.67 BTS/bitUSD) and 126,622.0299 bitUSD will be shifted into the budget of this worker. In addition, this worker covers all submissions and efforts from the audit panel since the end of the last worker (2019/01/15).


BitShares is a decentralized exchange (DEX) built on top of delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) blockchain technology. With all financial technology in the blockchain space, a major concern for users and traders is security.

If someone found a critical bug in the DEX, they might be tempted to exploit the bug, and attempt to steal funds from unsuspecting users. Without a public bug bounty system, hackers do not have an obvious path of disclosure for reporting their findings. They also do not have any incentive to share their exploits and techniques, rather than using them for personal gain.

With this proposal, we’d like to start a BitShares bug bounty program for security researchers and penetration testers (…aka hackers!) to disclose important security vulnerabilities they find within the BitShares core protocol, reference wallet, and related code repositories.

The proposal will use allocated funds to reward those that step forward with exploits, relative to the overall risk assessment of the exploit. The higher the payout for critical bugs, the more incentive there will be to attract higher quality researchers, and ultimately providing better security coverage for the DEX.

Funds will also be used to build and maintain a basic public website for reporting vulnerabilities. The website will include all the information needed for researchers to report a vulnerability, as well as an archive of bounty reports and a leaderboard to encourage a little friendly hacker competition. It will also lay the groundwork for future HackTheDEX worker proposals to improve the security and safety of BitShares as a whole.

Worker proposal funds will be held in an escrow account and unused funds will be refunded back to the network at the end of the proposal period.


  • Public disclosure of a vulnerability makes it ineligible for a bounty
  • Issues that have already been submitted by another user or are already known to repository maintainers are not eligible for bounty rewards
  • Members of any audit panel, and anyone involved with HackTheDEX.io, are not eligible to win bounty rewards
  • BitShares marketing websites and 3rd party websites/gateways are NOT part of the bounty program
  • A number of variables contribute to determining if a disclosed vulnerability is eligible for a reward. How the vulnerability is scored, and the methods used to determine the score, are at the sole discretion of the panel chosen to audit the report

Audit Panel

When a vulnerability is disclosed, care must be taken to minimize public disclosure until the issue can be verified by key developers and a bug fix can be released.

Auditors that take the time to perform a thorough review of the vulnerability and/or write code to fix the bug will also be compensated appropriately. Sometimes, but not always, an auditor may need to work with the researcher(s) to come up with a solution to lock down the vulnerability.

For transparency, each awarded bounty will include a public report along with which auditors were involved.

Audit Panel Selection

When a vulnerability is reported, the panel will be selected from available appropriately experienced and trusted contributors within the respective BitShares development community. The primary points of contact below will be asked to coordinate appropriately experienced and active developers to audit the report and resolve all issues as quickly and safely as possible.


Rewards paid out will vary based on severity as guided by the OWASP method.

Rewards will be paid out in bitUSD based on available worker proposal funds. The audit panel will use the following OWASP severity values as a guideline to decide the upper limit of the reward:

  • Critical: up to 25,000 bitUSD
  • High: up to 10,000 bitUSD
  • Medium: up to 5,000 bitUSD
  • Low: up to 1,000 bitUSD
  • Note: up to 100 bitUSD

Researchers who have been awarded bounties will also be listed on the hackthedex.io leaderboard (not mandatory).

To qualify for higher rewards, the submission should include everything the auditing panel would need to reproduce and verify the vulnerability. The submission should also be well-prepared and of high quality so that it can be shared with the community as part of our transparency process.

Open Bounties

Security vulnerability bounties apply to the following source code repositories, with some exceptions:

Protocol security

  • Graphene vulnerabilities
  • Validations of blocks, transactions and messages
  • Transaction execution
  • Message calls

An example of a potential issue in this category is Bitcoin’s “zero-day” flaw, which required a hard-fork.

Network security

  • Finney attacks
  • Sybil attacks
  • Replay attacks
  • Transaction / messages malleability
  • (global) DoS

Here is an example from bitcoin of a global network based DoS scenario.

Node security

Attacks on witness or public API nodes

  • DoS / resource abuse
  • Account / wallet address gathering/probing
  • Broadcast / withhold attacks

DoS example from bitcoin. DoS / Resource abuse example from bitcoin.

Client application security

This category addresses more classical security issues:

  • Data type overflow / wrap around, e.g. integer overflow
  • Concurrency, e.g. synchronization, state, races
  • Severe issues related to external libraries

Here is an example of a problem hidden in an external library.

Fund Allocation

Funds will be held within an escrow account managed by the BitShares Blockchain Foundation. At the end of the proposal period, any excess funds will be returned to the BitShares reserve pool.

  • Total Budget: 238,095.24 bitUSD Refundable reserve via a BitShares Foundation Budget Worker
  • Proposal Period: 1 year Allows sufficient time for security researchers to learn about BitShares and explore the code base
  • How funds will be allocated:
    • Bounty Rewards (bitUSD) Varies based on OWASP severity scale and audit panel final review
    • 150 bitUSD/hour Audit panel member compensation (more info)
    • up to 1000 bitUSD/month for expenses, including Management, Services, Website, Coordination, Collaboration Tools and Reports
    • 5% Disbursement Fee for the BitShares Blockchain Foundation for escrowing and payment processing (included in the total budget, only applied for completed payments)

Total asking from the BitShares Blockchain

In total this worker proposal is asking of a funding of

Description Amount
Bounty payouts and audit panel hours + 238,095.24 bitUSD
Moveover from 201807-hackthedex in bitUSD - 126,622.0299 bitUSD
Moveover from 201807-hackthedex in BTS (estimated) - 86,011.52 bitUSD
Disbursement Fee + 11,904.76 bitUSD
TOTAL 37366.44 bitUSD

over the duration of 1 year. Due to the generous initial funding the devaluation multiplier will be set to 1, which results in

1,707 BTS per day.

The budget is a up to budget on all accounts and actual spendings highly depent on incoming reports.

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