*Note: This review and score is purely based on the information disclosed by the validator service and the scoring rubric.
Last Updated: Oct 6, 2019
Ztake is a service that has been participating in the validator role since early 2018. The service is apart of the Never Jailed Crew of Game of Stakes.
- Eth 2.0
Team Background (63/100)
- Full-Time/Part-Time (10/10)
- Prior Blockchain Dev/Impact (5/10)
- Systems Experience (10/10)
- Recognizability (5/10)
Current Voting Power (70/100)
- Total Staked: (6/10)
- Unique Self-Bonders: (5/10)
- Commissions: (10/10)
Historical Metrics (100/100)
- Uptime (10/10)
- Proposals (10/10)
- Legal Compliance/Insurance (0)
- Innovations (0)
Ztake is based in Seattle, CA. We had the opportunity to chat with Mira, one of the co-founders.
The team consists of fill-time two individuals, whom have worked for big and small companies. Salesforce and financial startups were some provided examples, with the second full-time individual co-founding the PoA network. Working at these companies has given the team experience in understanding large scale systems The team has also worked on security audits for ethereum, algorand, and ecr20-based chains expanding their blockchain expertise. Mira stated that she thoroughly researches which networks to validator on. A differentiator for Ztake is their depth-first approach to validation, keeping overhead low. The team has a current focus on the Cosmos ecosystem, and maintains a medium blog to keep the public up-to-date with the company’s decisions.
The rest of Ztake’s team are on a contractors basis. This includes devops, website, or extra toolings. Ztake’s contractors are not provided access to sensitive keys or critical components of Ztake’s service.
At the time of writing, Ztake was the 24th ranked validator with a total of 1.8M atoms staked on the Cosmos Hub. Peering into the distribution, ~55% of their stake comes from a single address. The top 3 delegators make up for ~82% of their stake.
Ztake has been registered with the CosmosHub since it’s genesis. Since then, the service has maintained an excellent track record. Figment’s Hubble block explorer, shows no dip in downtime for the service or any recorded missed precommits.
Ztake’s depth first approach to validation is also seen in their proposal voting history. The service has placed a vote on all proposal on the Cosmos network. The service’s website, https://ztake.org/staking, also states the reasoning behind each of their votes.
Ztake participated in the Cosmos Game of Stakes before it’s mainnet launch. Ztake was one of the twenty teams (out of 200) to be apart of the Never Jailed Crew, staying in the validator set for the entire duration of the game.
Ztake is also active on the cosmos forum and stakingdefense.org. StakingDefense is a site comprised of a co-op of validators with a goal of keeping stake decentralized.
At the time of writing, Ztake expects their delegators to understand the risks associated with delegation, with no SLA in place. Part of why Ztake doesn’t provide an insurance policy is to stay compliant in the US. Reimbursement of funds in the case of missed rewards would require Ztake to have KYC on each of their delegators which is an expensive practice. Staying compliant is a priority for Ztake. However, the team is looking into providing an on-chain insurance policy.
- Failover (16/30)
- Private Peering (10/10)
- Agreements with other Validators (10/10)
- Sentry Scaling (10/10)
- Backup Strategy
Ztake makes use of an active / passive setup for their validator nodes, located in a single colocation center. The failover procedure requires a manual trigger to avoid any chance of double signing. These nodes are not publicly exposed to the internet and are protected by layers of private and public sentry nodes. It was stated in our discussion that Ztake is looking to re-architecte their validator setup. The team is considering using SignOS, offered by Certus One. This would allow Ztake to run their infrastructure completely in the cloud.
Ztake’s sentry nodes are spread across different cloud providers with some of these nodes privately peered with other validators.
Ztake has not instrumented the Cosmos binaries or written custom code at the application layer.
Monitoring Tools (50/100)
- Network Level (5/10)
- Hardware Level (5/10)
- Paging (5/10)
Single Point of Failure (50/100)
- Multi-Cloud (10/10)
- Multi-Region (0/10)
Key Management (50/100)
- HSM Selections (5/10)
- Smart Key Management (10/10)
Validator Access (100/100)
- Physical/Remote (10/10)
Ztake makes use of standard monitoring practices to ensure the health of their service. The validator nodes make use of Prometheus, hooked with pager duty to provide alerting for any unusual activity.
Single Points of Failure
Ztake’s use of a single colocation for their validator nodes is a single point of failure in their infrastructure setup. Although unlikely, any environmental or catastrophic events could be fatal to the service.
Ztake use the Ledger as their HSM and is directly used by the validator node (no KMS). The Ledger provides double-sign protection in the module itself. However, it is important to note that the Ledger is a consumer-focused product and has been questioned regarding it’s enterprise-grade capabilities.
Direct remote access to the validator node is not possible. Ztake makes use of a bastion host in addition to multi-factor authentication for remote communication.
When asked to provide an introspective analysis, Mira stated that one of Ztake’s main goals is to operator in a secure and compliant way in the US. Mira is also pushing for the Cosmos ecosystem to support master/slave key setups for validators. Currently, it is not possible for a validator to recover from key compromise. Ztake believes key rotation is a critical piece in ensuring validator security.