Interchain security v1 is the first version of Interchain Security, which allows Cosmos blockchains to lease security to each other. Code for v1 is expected to be completed by the end of Q1 2022, and the feature should launch on the Cosmos Hub with a governance proposal in Q2 2022.

Interchain Security allows anyone to launch a blockchain using the same validator set as the Cosmos Hub by making a governance proposal. If the proposal is accepted, Cosmos Hub validators start validating the “consumer chain” as well. Consumer chains will inherit the full security of the Cosmos Hub, widely known to host the most robust and mature validator set in the proof of stake blockchain ecosystem. This will ensure that blockchains leasing their security from the Cosmos Hub will have software that is stable and secure at launch. Best of all, Cosmos Hub delegators will automatically receive staking rewards from these consumer chains.

For a more in-depth technical look at Interchain Security design, check out the Informal Systems repository. Stay tuned for future updates on subsequent versions of Interchain Security! Lastly, if you’re interested in building Interchain Security and other upcoming Cosmos Hub features with us, check out our careers page, or get in touch.

Technical Overview

Core protocol

The Cosmos Hub will send validator set updates to each consumer chain over IBC. The consumer chain uses those validator set updates to update its own validator set in Tendermint. Thus, the validator set is effectively replicated, allowing the consumer chains to be run by the same validators as the provider chain. To ensure the security of the consumer chain, Cosmos Hub delegators cannot unbond their tokens until the unbonding periods of each consumer chain has passed. In practice this will not be noticeable to the Cosmos Hub delegators, since consumer chains will be configured to have a slightly shorter unbonding period than the Hub.

Slashing

Evidence of downtime or misbehavior of validators on the consumer chain is sent to the provider chain where their staked tokens can be slashed. This is the key mechanism which allows consumer chains to inherit the Cosmos Hub’s security.

Consumer chain launch

Launching a consumer chain (or converting an existing chain to a consumer chain) is done with a governance proposal on the Cosmos Hub. Once this governance protocol is passed, Cosmos Hub validators begin producing blocks on the consumer chain.

Distribution and economics

A consumer chain will send a portion of their inflationary rewards and fees to the Cosmos Hub, to be distributed to Cosmos Hub validators and delegators. The exact percentage is configurable from 0-100%. This will ensure that delegators on the provider chain are compensated for infrastructure maintenance and slashing risk resulting from validating the consumer chain. Through the governance proposal consumer chain launch protocol outlined above, the Cosmos Hub delegators and validators can decide whether a given consumer chain is worth taking on.

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