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Solana Foundation restricts validators involved in sandwich attacks

Validators engaged in what the foundation deems as "malicious activities" will not be tolerated by the delegation program.

a group of developers studying protocol rules to protect retail users

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The Solana Foundation has announced the removal of a group of validator operators from its delegation program due to their involvement in sandwich attacks on Solana users. The decision aims to ensure that the foundation does not delegate to validators who carry out malicious sandwich attacks on retail users.

Solana Validator Relations Lead Tim Garcia made the announcement on the Solana Foundation’s Discord server, stating that the decisions on the matter are “final” with ongoing enforcement actions as the organization uncovers more operators involved with mempools allowing sandwhich attacks.

According to Mert Mumtaz, co-founder of Solana RPC provider Helius, the move from the foundation would protect retail users from validators who may be engaged in such activities that abuse the delegation based on rules for MEV (Maximal Extractable Value).

MEV issues arise on the network when validators manipulate transaction ordering to maximize profits. This includes front-running and sandwich attacks, where validators exploit transactions to profit from price changes, causing higher costs and slippage for users. The Solana Foundation’s action against validators involved in such practices demonstrates its commitment to protecting users and maintaining the integrity of the network.

Sandwich attacks are a type of front-running exploit where an attacker places two transactions around a victim’s transaction to manipulate the price and profit from the difference.

The Solana Foundation had previously laid out rules against such attacks in a May 7 Discord post by Garcia, which stated that anyone found “engaging” in what the foundation deems as “malicious” activity would be “rejected from the program” alongside their stake being permanently removed from the foundation.

The Solana Foundation Delegation Program was established to support validators by delegating SOL tokens to them, removing the need for validators to hold a substantial amount of tokens. Validators are selected based on their performance and are expected to adhere to certain caveats and good practices.

Despite being removed from the delegation program, the operators can still contribute to the blockchain as Solana is a permissionless network. However, they will no longer receive SOL staked to them by the foundation.

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