The blockchain network Stellar (XLM) was down this week. The network stopped confirming transactions from 4:15pm ET for almost two hours on Wednesday, May 15. The executives of the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) validators confirmed after a Redditor reported the incident.
Every Stellar validator can select which validators are trusted. In this case, the majority of the validators chose SDF validators. Once it went down for a couple of hours, the entire network could not reach any consensus. Stellar, whose lumens token currently ranks as the eighth-largest by market capitalization, shut down for up to 110 minutes.
Consequently, no transactions were authenticated in that period. For now, it is not yet clear what caused the massive downtime simultaneously. However, analysts think that the cause was a massive offlining of SDF nodes that the majority of the network trusts. Whenever the validators select a single subset of trusted nodes, a single point of failure arises. Hence, it becomes quite easy to take down an entire network.
The incident affected other participants making them unable to discover consensus for blocks. Not a single transaction validated until the developers resolved the issue. The CTO of Stellar.org, Nicolas Barry, said that Stellar will update the community further in the coming days. It will also highlight the steps that Stellar will take to address those issues.
Barry said that the downtime may have resulted from being too decentralized too fast making the system to halt. The price of XLM is up around 17.31% since that incident. Current XLM/USD prices of $0.141 mark. Stellar received criticism over its structure from other crypto communities. Tim Swanson, a former blockchain consortium R3 executive, suggested that it had constrained appeal as a platform.
what basically happened was that a critical mass of nodes went down causing a cascading failure and so the entire network went down but because it isn't frequently used, few noticed.
— Tim Swanson (@ofnumbers) May 16, 2019
In a major attempt to increase awareness, Stellar joined hands with wallet provider, Blockchain.com on a $125 million token giveaway in November 2018. For now, the developers are still working to diagnose the root cause of this problem hoping that it will not recur in the future.