Uncover the Premeditated Attacks: Detecting Exploitable Reentrancy Vulnerabilities by Identifying Attacker Contracts

28 Mar 2024  ·  Shuo Yang, Jiachi Chen, Mingyuan Huang, Zibin Zheng, Yuan Huang ·

Reentrancy, a notorious vulnerability in smart contracts, has led to millions of dollars in financial loss. However, current smart contract vulnerability detection tools suffer from a high false positive rate in identifying contracts with reentrancy vulnerabilities. Moreover, only a small portion of the detected reentrant contracts can actually be exploited by hackers, making these tools less effective in securing the Ethereum ecosystem in practice. In this paper, we propose BlockWatchdog, a tool that focuses on detecting reentrancy vulnerabilities by identifying attacker contracts. These attacker contracts are deployed by hackers to exploit vulnerable contracts automatically. By focusing on attacker contracts, BlockWatchdog effectively detects truly exploitable reentrancy vulnerabilities by identifying reentrant call flow. Additionally, BlockWatchdog is capable of detecting new types of reentrancy vulnerabilities caused by poor designs when using ERC tokens or user-defined interfaces, which cannot be detected by current rule-based tools. We implement BlockWatchdog using cross-contract static dataflow techniques based on attack logic obtained from an empirical study that analyzes attacker contracts from 281 attack incidents. BlockWatchdog is evaluated on 421,889 Ethereum contract bytecodes and identifies 113 attacker contracts that target 159 victim contracts, leading to the theft of Ether and tokens valued at approximately 908.6 million USD. Notably, only 18 of the identified 159 victim contracts can be reported by current reentrancy detection tools.

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Cryptography and Security Software Engineering


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