Tech Deep Dive
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NEVILLE GRECH
17 November 2018

Madmax: Surviving Out-of-gas Conditions in Ethereum Smart Contracts

Ethereum is a distributed blockchain platform, serving as an ecosystem for smart contracts: full-fledged inter- communicating programs that capture the transaction logic of an account. Unlike programs in mainstream languages, a gas limit restricts the execution of an Ethereum smart contract: execution proceeds as long as gas is available. Thus, gas is a valuable resource that can be manipulated by an attacker to provoke unwanted behavior in a victim’s smart contract (e.g., wasting or blocking funds of said victim). Gas-focused vulnerabilities exploit undesired behavior when a contract (directly or through other interacting contracts) runs out of gas. Such vulnerabilities are among the hardest for programmers to protect against, as out-of-gas behavior may be uncommon in non-attack scenarios and reasoning about it is far from trivial.

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