The Osmosis Grants Program Partners with Axelar, Akash Network, and the ATOM Accelerator to Bring Mesh Security to Cosmos
The Osmosis Grants Program (OGP), in partnership with Axelar, Akash Network, the Osmosis Foundation, and the ATOM Accelerator, will fund an initiative to complete the development of Mesh Security and bring it to mainnet across the Cosmos ecosystem. Mesh Security will be developed as a public good by a team composed of organizations and contributors from across the Cosmos ecosystem. In addition to these initial funding partners, a number of additional chains have verbally committed to support future phases of development, including EVMOS, Stargaze, Sei, and Stride.
While the core components of the initial version will be reusable for any CosmWasm-enabled chain, we plan on expanding support for any Cosmos SDK chain in the future. The front-end team will also build 1) an independent web application that is designed to scale to support any mesh-enabled chain; and 2) a UI kit that allows developers to embed cross-staking functionality into their application easily.
In models like Interchain Security (ICS), security flows in one direction: down from a parent chain in a hub-and-spoke fashion. In contrast, with Mesh Security, chains combine their market caps for added (bi-directional or multi-lateral) security.
Unlike ICS, Mesh Security partnerships do not require validators to run additional nodes, nor do they require the sharing or cross-chain linking of validators on each chain. Mesh Security simply allows delegators with staked tokens on one chain to restake their bonded tokens to validators of their choice on the partner chain. If the validator they chooses to restake to on the partner chain misbehaves, the staked tokens will be slashed on both chains. In return for taking on this additional slashing risk, delegators will receive staking rewards from the partner chain in proportion to the amount of CometBFT (Tendermint) power that their home chain is securing for the partner.
While ICS and Mesh Security may appear to be competing models on the surface, they are actually very complementary and typically serve different use cases. Mesh Security’s primary use case is targeting appchains that have already established their stakeholder sets and have a sufficiently high market cap to secure themselves. For this class of Cosmos chains, adding mesh secured partners just provides additional economic security for their chain.
In contrast, the Cosmos Hub’s current iteration of Interchain Security is intended for early-stage projects that do not want to bootstrap their own validator set and/or would prefer to rely entirely on the Cosmos Hub’s set of validators. Once these ICS chains reach a certain stage of maturity, they can transition to a Mesh Security system while still being partially or majority secured by the Cosmos Hub validator set. In this way, Mesh Security serves as an ideal “off-boarding” path for ICS chains that are ready to transition to a fully sovereign chain.
“The Atom Accelerator DAO is delighted to be able to join our colleagues from other chains within the Cosmos in funding the development of Mesh Security. With replicated security launching on the Cosmos Hub, we are beginning a period of innovative security development. Mesh security provides a new and exciting opportunity, opening the door to a new age of interchain cooperation. Mesh security and replicated security can operate in compliment to each other, and we look forward to the Cosmos Hub making use of both.” - Ben Davis (aka BendyOne), Project Coordinator ATOM Accelerator
If successful, Mesh Security will increase the economic security of Cosmos chains while allowing them to retain complete sovereignty. There are already high levels of economic interdependence between Cosmos chains (Osmosis, Axelar, Juno, Stargaze, Stride, Mars). Mesh security mitigates the risk of these dependencies by instantiating a security relationship that matches these economic relationships.
Let’s walk through an example to show how Mesh Security can increase the economic security of a Cosmos chain such as Osmosis:
- Let’s say Osmosis is $1, ATOM is $10, and Osmosis is secured by 200M OSMO. Osmosis and the Cosmos Hub could agree to let 10% of each chain’s CometBFT (Tendermint) voting power be secured by each other through restaking.
- If ATOM stakers restake enough ATOM to reach the 10% cap, Osmosis is now secured by 200M OSMO (90% of the voting power) as well as 2M ATOM (10% of the voting power).
- As a result, Osmosis has increased the amount of security by $20M.
- Any dilution in staking rewards for Osmosis is offset by receiving an equal proportion of ATOM staking rewards.
In addition to bi-lateral security, this infrastructure will also be able to provide uni-directional security. Validators on established chains can “underwrite” the launch of a new chain by running a validator for them. And instead of only relying on their native token for economic security, new chains can be secured by restaked tokens from one or more chains with higher market caps. This will allow new chains to rent security from one or more existing chains without requiring governance approval from the security provider chain (uni-directional relationships should only require chain upgrades on the consumer chain).
There are a number of cases where a service is needed, but the best version of that service would not be controlled by a single chain. For example, instead of fragmenting name services across many different providers, this service could be in the form of a consumer chain that is secured collectively by all chains in the mesh. Another example could be a chain that provides a cross-venue marketplace for priority blockspace.
“Given the interchain nature of Mesh Security’s benefits and critical infrastructure supporting Cosmos SDK chains like Akash Network, Axelar, Osmosis, and others, we believe its development should also be a collective initiative. We strongly support the inclusive approach being taken and are excited to partner with other chains to oversee its development” - Boz Menzalji, COO of Akash Network
“As the Axelar network continues to expand to accommodate thousands of chains and facilitate interoperability for all major ecosystems and dApps, ensuring security across the entire stack becomes increasingly important. As the foremost provider of interoperability for Cosmos, the Axelar network is particularly invested in keeping the ecosystem as secure as possible. To this end, the addition of Mesh Security is a natural progression that can harness the combined economic power of all Cosmos chains. With Mesh Security, Axelar is well-positioned to maintain the highest standards of robustness for the entire interchain ecosystem.” - Sergey Gorbunov, co-founder of Axelar
The Mesh Security initiative will be completed over three phases, each representing roughly three months of development work.
- Deliver specs and architecture
- Deploy MVP on testnets for feedback
- Deploy a uni-directional version with low-cap chains as consumers
- Test bi-directional version on testnets (both chains are consumers and providers)
- Submit successful governance proposal on Osmosis and Juno (or others) to signal support for implementation
- Deploy bi-directional versions on mainnet
- Deliver open-source repos of core components and UI kit
Similar to the design of Mesh Security, this initiative’s development and funding approach will be bottom-up in nature. Mesh Security will be developed as a public good by teams across the Cosmos ecosystem, funded by a number of Cosmos projects, and the OGP will lead the project management. This is in stark contrast to top-down security models such as Interchain Security (ICS) and EigenLayer, which in line with their security design, were each developed by one company.
The Mesh Security initiative will be composed of two teams – one that will focus on architecture and back-end development and another that will design and develop the front-end along with additional tooling.
Front-end and Design
- Josef Leventon
- Julius Lattke (Design DAO)