*Note: This review and score is purely based on the information disclosed by the validator service and the scoring rubric.
Last Updated: Oct 10, 2019
Cosmostation’s validator service operates on the Cosmos and IRISnet blockchains. Built by the creators of mintscan.io and CosmosJS, Cosmostation differentiates itself with a strong focus on open source contribution of user and developer-friendly tools. Cosmostation presently offers 12% commission validation services, and is based in Seoul, Korea.
Team Background (62.5/100)
- Full-Time/Part-Time (10/10)
- Prior Blockchain Dev/Impact (10/10)
- Systems Experience (0/10)
- Recognizability (5/10)
Current Voting Power (63/100)
- Total Staked: (9/10)
- Unique Self-Bonders: (10/10)
- Commissions: (0/10)
Historical Metrics (100/100)
- Uptime (10/10)
- Proposals (10/10)
- Legal Compliance/Insurance (0)
- Innovations (0)
Cosmostation is currently led by “Brian”, an anonymous individual with no publicly available background information. The company possesses 11+ full-time employees, including David Park (CMO), Jay Park (COO), and JayB Kim (CTO). The team broadly possesses a breadth of experience in mobile app development, wallet infrastructure, video, and front end web development – having previously built crypto wallets, audio-rendering tools, video content, and web applications.
Compared to other validators, Cosmostation has had less exposure to building highly available systems. Instead, the team’s background (and focus) has been on product development.
Cosmostation has been live on mainnet since March 2019, and is based in Seoul, Korea.
Cosmostation is presently the #7 validator on the Cosmos hub by delegation with ~7.993M atoms delegated. At time of writing, this translates to approximately $31M USD. Much of these funds are delegated, and come from Cosmostation’s reputation in the Korean and broader Asian crypto communities.
It is additionally hypothesized that much of Cosmostation’s delegation originates from self-branded funnels, including their wallet application, developer tools, and block explorer (mintscan).
Cosmostation currently offers a 12% commission rate on Cosmos Hub, placing itself slightly more expensive than its competition (average: 10%). Despite this high rate, Cosmostation appears to have attracted one of the largest delegator bases – with 53 accounts delegating north of 19,000 ATOMS ($60K+ USD at time of writing).
Outside of Cosmos, Cosmostation is the #30 validator on IRISnet, with 6.523M IRIS delegated (~$275K USD at time of writing). The company offers 10% commission on this service, and controls 1.14% of the network’s voting power. What is interesting to note is that Cosmostation recently lost 5M IRIS in delegation. Motive for this unbonding event is unclear (transaction hash here).
Cosmostation has maintained 100% uptime since its entrance into the active validator set in the March 2019. The company has additionally yet to be penalized or warned for consecutive missed blocks. Cosmostation presently has 4.67% of the network’s voting power, and has been trending upward since their conception. Of the five major proposals on the Cosmos Hub thus far, Cosmostation has participated in four (80%). All of Cosmostation’s votes have been in favour of popular opinion on the network.
Cosmostation describes itself as a “product-focused” validator. The company has built a number of tools for both users and developers, which are described below:
Mintscan.io: “Block explorer for exchanges and everyday users.” Displays recent Cosmos and Kava transaction activity, and summarizes the delegations of top validators on the Cosmos Hub.
Cosmostation Mobile Wallet: “A decentralized mobile wallet for Tendermint-based chains.” Provides an intuitive interface for users to create and import wallets, delegate, redelegate, and undelegate ATOMS, send tokens, claim rewards, learn about governance proposals, and re-invest earnings.
What is additionally interesting to note is that the company is openly praiseful of other validators, and has stated that it has leaned heavily on the work of others in its setup. The company has specifically pointed to articles from Certus One as particularly helpful to their team.
Cosmostation is also part of the “Korean Validator Alliance”, comprised of ATEAM, B-Harvest, and more. The company has stated that it hasn’t been in touch with other validators as much as they should be, however they actively participate in governance, have invested heavily in communicating with delegators, and have only missed/abstained from one vote to date.
In the face of a slashing event (via double-sign, missed blocks, or more), Cosmostation expects delegators to understand the risks of delegating, and does not provide any insurance policy accordingly.
- Failover (8/30)
- Private Peering (10/10)
- Agreements with other Validators (10/10)
- Sentry Scaling (5/10)
- Backup Strategy
Cosmostation presently operates one validator node, located in either Google Cloud or AWS. This validator can only be accessed inside a VPN. The company made the decision to “go cloud” after purchasing server hardware and an HSM (YubiHSM2) and deploying a validator in a Korean data center – coming to the opinion that cloud services were more secure and production-ready.
No failover is in place at the time of writing. A backup node is currently running, however no files are in place to back up the validator quickly. All key management occurs in the cloud. In the future, Cosmostation intends on moving its validator service to an internal server – eventually returning to the YubiHSM2 or Ledger Nano S.
Cosmostation presently deploys a three-tiered sentry architecture with private peering. The company presently has approximately four sentries across three continents exposed on a public P2P network for RPC’s – which communicate to a number of “private sentries”, which exist on a private network. These private sentries communicate with Cosmostation’s cloud validator, which is solely responsible for signing blocks.
Cosmostation additionally maintains an active snapshotting schedule, which allows the team to spin up new sentries rapidly if needed. The company recently tried to implement autoscaling and load balancing – however they have recently ran into some issues and have since scrapped the effort.
At time of writing, Cosmostation has not developed any custom code on their validator infrastructure. This is as most of the team’s time is spent developing other software products for users.
The company has additionally mentioned an internal effort on transitioning to a Kubernetes-centric setup, however the setup is not yet at production-level. Cosmostation is waiting for changes from Cosmos Hub 2 to Cosmos Hub 3 before making changes or releasing additional information.
Monitoring Tools (100 /100)
- Network Level (10/10)
- Hardware Level (10/10)
- Paging (10/10)
Single Point of Failure (100/100)
- Multi-Cloud (10/10)
- Multi-Region (10/10)
Key Management (25/100)
- HSM Selections (0/10)
- Smart Key Management (5/10)
Validator Access (0/100)
- Physical/Remote (0/10)
Cosmostation utilizes a number of logging, monitoring, and alerting services – including Amazon Web Cloud, Prometheus, Grafana, and the Mintscan explorer.
The team additionally gets alert notifications using the Slack API – ensuring that the whole team is notificatied in the case of downtime. If a critical issue arises (i.e a relay node or validator node is not syncing for 15 seconds) core engineers receive slack, email, and text messages. This is coupled with an on-call rotation.
Lastly, Cosmostation leverages its mintscan explorer, to store all transaction and block data, ensuring that, whenever something happens that is unexpected, they get an alarm for it.
Single Points of Failure
Due to the relatively small nature of Cosmostation’s technical team, only a couple engineers are responsible for taking care of Key management. In the event these engineers are unavailable, Cosmostation’s CEO is also informed about best courses of action.
Cosmostation also employs a “least privilege” strategy, only allowing technical people to manage keys on mainnet. The company has mimicked much of the infrastructure of Certus One and Chorus One in this regard.
Comostation lastly deploys sentry nodes across two cloud services (Google Cloud and AWS), and four regions (in three countries).
Cosmostation currently has all key management infrastructure in the cloud. Double sign prevention is software-based.
Access to physical hardware is non-existent in Cosmostation’s setup. This is typically considered to be a negative, as troubleshooting cloud services is more difficult and complicated than unplugging and fixing malfunctions in a physical machine.
When prompted, the Cosmostation team provided two focal points for future efforts.
1) User-friendly tooling
– Building more infrastructure like the Cosmos Wallet and Mintscan
2) Developer tooling
– Finding unique ways to expand the Cosmos SDK developer pool. This includes providing materials and workshops for developers in Korea, as well as providing libraries and modules that other devs can plug into.