February 29, 2024

What Is Shared Security In Blockchain?

What Is Shared Security In Blockchain?

We have seen different types of blockchain networks since the inception of blockchain technology. 

Initially, most of these chains were “stand-alone” networks set to either rival Bitcoin or Ethereum as was the case of the so-called “Ethereum Killers”.

Today the two most dominant chains are Bitcoin the first major use of blockchain technology and Ethereum the network that brought smart contracts.

Regardless of their dominance, some chains have been able to establish themselves in the web3 space.

One of the merits of established blockchains such as Ethereum is that they have achieved an unprecedented level of decentralization.

This has made it very difficult for malicious actors to take over the network in a 51% attack or compromise it in a double-spending attack. 

This is what makes major established networks attractive to new upcoming blockchains. 

Instead of building an entire network infrastructure from scratch, some new chains may consider delegating their security to an established blockchain with hundreds of thousands of nodes and validators in other to achieve a robust level of security. 

Understanding Shared Security in Blockchain

The concept of shared security is simply when a smaller network or new blockchain network borrows security from a more established one. 

This is when a blockchain is secured by an external blockchain network, usually a bigger more decentralised chain shares its security infrastructure, such as consensus algorithms and validators with a new or smaller blockchain. 

Over the years the need for interoperability has led to cross-chain bridges in DeFi and layer 0s enable the creation of interconnected blockchains.

As blockchain becomes more interconnected instead of developing the next “Ethereum killer” chains are being built on top of established infrastructures, especially for the sake of security. 

Blockchain Security Challenges    

Image credit: Movelabs


Public or permission less blockchains have no single focal point, instead, the network is distributed across multiple nodes where multiple individuals participate in securing the network. Every blockchain has a consensus mechanism that is used to validate transactions and add new blocks to the network. 

More nodes mean more decentralization which increases the level of security as the blockchain becomes more resistant to attacks such as: 

51% attack - this is when a malicious actor gains control over a majority of the computational power or staked tokens in a network this gives the bad actor the power to rewrite the network’s history and carry out double spending attacks. 

DDoS Attacks - here actors flood a network we spam transactions causing the network to be very slow or even crash as legitimate transactions won't be processed due to overload. 

Sybil Attacks - this is when a single entity operates multiple nodes or fake validator identities in a bid to gain significant control of the network.

Now when a blockchain has hundreds of thousands of validators or miners it is very difficult for the network to be compromised as it becomes extremely expensive for hackers to successfully launch any attack on the blockchain.

The need for decentralisation through a large network of participants (miners or validators) on the blockchain is difficult for nascent or smaller chains, when a new blockchain is just starting, it might lack the large community necessary for security. 

These smaller or new chains are more vulnerable to attack and can struggle to gain the trust required to become established networks.

Shared Security Can Help  

Image credit: nicholasidoko  

There are several benefits of shared security some of them are: 

Robust Security For Smaller Chains: The chances of 51% attacks become minimal and the smaller blockchain gains immutability boosting their integrity. 

Increased Scalability: Blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have limited scalability, leading to transaction delays and high gas fees. 

Shared security can enhance scalability by enabling transactions to be moved off of these chains while still taking advantage of their improved security.

Easier Launch New Chains: Shared security makes it easier to launch new chains by using already secure and established chains as a foundation.  

Easier To Get Validators:  New chains will skip stages such as recruitment and verification of potential validators. This allows the team to save time and effort to achieve a fast and safe startup of the application chain.

Approaches To Shared Security 


Rollups are layer-2s networks that are scaling solutions as they mostly tend to process transactions off-chain then these transactions are later submitted to the main chain.

Rollups are secured by the parent layer-1 chain while they provide an increase in scalability, faster transactions and lower gas fees. 

Layer 0 

Layer 0 platform provides building blocks and libraries for blockchain development and various protocols to enhance interoperability.

Shared security can be implemented at Layer 0 if validators and consensus algorithms are provided or shared at Layer 0. 

Interconnected Blockchains 

Cosmos is an example of a blockchain of blockchains dubbed  “the internet of blockchains” The network bids to ensure interoperability between blockchains. 

Here Cosmos Hub which is the first blockchain on the Cosmos network acts as an intermediary to other blockchains built within the network. 

The other blockchains within the Cosmos ecosystem can lease access to the Cosmos Hub validator set. Cosmos Hub, validators will validate transactions on these chains in exchange for staking rewards. 

Now any malicious activity by a validator on a consumer chain will result in slashing of a validator’s stake on Cosmos Hub, providing an incentive for validators to behave on every chain that they validate.

Final Thoughts

A robust security framework is needed in a space where breaches, hacks and compromises are almost weekly news. With shared security, new/smaller blockchains with great fundamentals and capabilities can enjoy the robust security infrastructures of already established networks.

[Author’s Note: This article does not represent financial advice, everything written here is strictly for educational and informational purposes. Please do your own research before investing.]