BNB Beacon Chain hard fork adds ‘panic’ feature that can ‘halt’ blockchain

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The Binance-operated BNB Beacon Chain mainnet is set to add a new feature in its upcoming hard fork, which will give the blockchain the ability to “halt” the production of new blocks if certain conditions are met.

In a July 12 statement from BNB Chain, the “ZhangHeng” upgrade is expected to take place at block height 328,088,888, which it expects will occur on July 19.

The hard fork will introduce Binance Evolution Proposal BEP-255, which seeks to implement “on-chain asset reconciliation” — which Binance believes could mitigate damage from potential cross-chain bridge exploits such as the Binance Smart Chain exploit on Oct. 7, 2022. 

“Although some enhancements have been made to improve cross-chain security, such as BEP171, the security of assets on the BNB Beacon Chain itself should also be guaranteed, especially after the bridge exploitation,” according to the Github post concerning BEP-255. 

Binance explained that under the BEP, user balance changes will be tracked in each block and will be reconciled to identify any issues.

“When there are reconciliation errors, the blockchain will panic and stop producing new blocks.”

Binance said the action will impact “downstream services such as bridges, deposits, and withdrawals on exchanges” but the “drastic action” is necessary to protect the chain and its users. 

Bringing the blockchain back online will require a hard fork and will require addressing the reconciliation error. 

“For example, if exploitation exists, related accounts should be blacklisted or corrected. Once the blockchain is resumed, downstream services can be brought back up as well,” it explained.

Rogue Key Attacks and other upgrades

Other changes include a bug fix to prevent “Rogue Key Attacks” — a security issue where a perpetrator produces a valid aggregate signature for a transaction as opposed to the true owner of the private keys.

“To fix the bug, all existing vote addresses will be cleared up when the height of hardfork reached,” the firm said, adding that validators will need to add vote addresses again.

The hard fork will also purport to make the chain capable of handling more complex business rules and logic.

Related: A beginner’s guide to the BNB Chain: The evolution of the Binance Smart Chain

Binance said the hard fork needs two-thirds of validators to switch their software version to v0.10.16 beforehand, otherwise, complications may arise.

Full nodes that fail to upgrade will not be able to execute further blocks after the hard fork block height, BNB Chain explained.

BNB Chain outlined a full set of instructions explaining how node operators can comply with the hard fork upgrade, but noted that BNB token holders that use Binance.com, other centralized exchanges or cold wallets, no action is currently required.

On June 19, BNB Chain launched opBNB — a new Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)-compatible layer-2 scaling solution based on Optimism’s OP Stack.

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