51% Attacks on DAO

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11 months ago

We have heard about the 51% attacks on validator nodes. It's when more than or equal to 50% of the validator nodes are controlled by hackers, whom could then control transactions, including reversing a transaction. But 51% attacks doesn't occur just for nodes! It could also happens on DAOs.

Consider this situation: a member is a BCH lover (NEAR lover); and he/she brings in members of their family to join the community. So we have active members as families here. Each family members, due to their activity, are allowed to join in a DAO and gain voting power.

Now, imagine the DAO has 13 council/community members with voting power; and out of the 13, 7 of them comes from the same family. If the family members sit down and make a decision without involving the other members, they could dominate DAO votes. It doesn't matter if all the others disagree. What matters is they discussed it within the family (especially if exclusive of community or against community expectations), and they decide something. This is the 51% attacks on DAO. The DAO is now a family-owned DAO; not a community-owned DAO.

It's not just limited to family members. Example, if students from the same class, lead by the teacher, join a same DAO. Assume that the DAO is owned by global community; but because more than 51% of voting members are from that classroom, if they make a decision within the classroom without involving the other voting members, they could perform a 51% attacks on the voting decisions. The DAO is now a classroom-owned DAO; not a community-owned DAO.


If groups decide to join DAO as a group, they should only have one voting power. Whether it's a yes or a no, they could open up a sub-DAO within the group to decide before the final vote is passed as the DAO vote.

Though, this isn't totally mitigate the problem. Wallets are incognito; and we could never know whether the people behind the wallets know each other or not, can influence each other or not to bend decisions in their will.


Even though DAO are council-based, the council might never seen each other face to face, and doesn't know about each other except they're an active member. This is unlike political council members or school council members where you see each other in real life and know more about them personally; hence decide whether they could or could not perform a 51% attacks. With so little knowledge of each other, it's important to be careful who you add to the council members, and whom have voting power.

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11 months ago