Erays: Reverse Engineering Ethereum's Opaque Smart Contracts


Yi Zhou, Deepak Kumar, Surya Bakshi, Joshua Mason, Andrew Miller, and Michael Bailey, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Interacting with Ethereum smart contracts can have potentially devastating financial consequences. In light of this, several regulatory bodies have called for a need to audit smart contracts for security and correctness guarantees. Unfortunately, auditing smart contracts that do not have readily available source code can be challenging, and there are currently few tools available that aid in this process. Such contracts remain opaque to auditors. To address this, we present Erays, a reverse engineering tool for smart contracts. Erays takes in smart contract from the Ethereum blockchain, and produces high-level pseudocode suitable for manual analysis. We show how Erays can be used to provide insight into several contract properties, such as code complexity and code reuse in the ecosystem. We then leverage Erays to link contracts with no previously available source code to public source code, thus reducing the overall opacity in the ecosystem. Finally, we demonstrate how Erays can be used for reverse-engineering in four case studies: high-value multi-signature wallets, arbitrage bots, exchange accounts, and finally, a popular smart-contract game, Cryptokitties. We conclude with a discussion regarding the value of reverse engineering in the smart contract ecosystem, and how Erays can be leveraged to address the challenges that lie ahead.

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@inproceedings {217583,
author = {Yi Zhou and Deepak Kumar and Surya Bakshi and Joshua Mason and Andrew Miller and Michael Bailey},
title = {Erays: Reverse Engineering Ethereum{\textquoteright}s Opaque Smart Contracts},
booktitle = {27th USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 18)},
year = {2018},
isbn = {978-1-939133-04-5},
address = {Baltimore, MD},
pages = {1371--1385},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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