Smart contracts have become one of the most attractive and used applications of Blockchain technology because of the trust and transparency they enable while enforcing an agreement between two parties. A smart contract is a self-executing code that runs on a Blockchain network. They have become an integral part of important industries like finance and management to supply chain management. This rapid increase in the usage of smart contracts has resulted in an increasing number of job opportunities for individuals who can audit these smart contracts to look for vulnerabilities so that they can be fixed before enforcing the agreement.
A smart contract auditor ensures the code is secure, bug-free, and meets the specifications. Smart contract auditing involves reviewing the code, analyzing it for potential vulnerabilities, and verifying that it operates as intended. This article will provide an in-depth guide to becoming a smart contract auditor. We will cover the role of a smart contract auditor, the qualifications and skills required, steps to becoming a smart contract auditor, tools and resources for smart contract auditors, challenges and opportunities in the field, and final thoughts and recommendations for aspiring auditors.
Why is Blockchain Auditing Important for Every Crypto Organization?
Before we learn more about the role of smart contract auditors, it is important to understand why Blockchain auditing is extremely important for crypto firms. While it is commonly known as a preventive measure to prevent the smart contract from hacking, other important reasons make Blockchain auditing important and leverage the importance of individuals performing this job.
Increased security for your projects
This is the most well-known and important feature of smart contract auditing. When an auditor assesses a contract, their job is to ensure that the code is free from any vulnerabilities that will make it less prone to attacks and hacking attempts in the future. If successful, such attempts can lead to heavy losses, in millions, to the organization and wasted resources that would have to be spent on building another contract or fixing the existing one.
Optimized code and improved efficiency of smart contract
Vulnerability is one of many reasons auditing is important. Auditing can also help in making the code more streamlined and efficient. While looking at the code, the auditor looks into the entire smart contract line by line and is in a position to look for any unnecessary protocol that may make the contract slow and inefficient.
Build trust in the project and organization
Trust is one of the most important aspects while doing business in Blockchain or any other sector. When an organization engages in proper auditing, they ensure that the contract deployed has no apparent vulnerabilities and is less prone to hacking. Thus, the only way to create and build trust in a project or organization related to the Blockchain is by looking at how they operate. The auditing techniques they use in its smart contracts can greatly indicate its working process.
Responsibilities and duties of an intelligent contract auditor
Smart contract auditors are responsible for reviewing and testing the code to identify vulnerabilities and ensure the contract functions as intended. They must communicate their findings effectively to developers, project managers, and other stakeholders.
As a beginner, it can be hard to understand what responsibilities are expected of you as a smart contract auditor and how you should prepare for this role. But, this will become quite evident once we discuss the duties of a smart contract auditor and what are some necessary details you should know about this job.
Comprehensive Knowledge of Smart Contract Projects and their Documentation
Once you become a smart contract auditor, your primary responsibility should be to assess and understand the documentation of the smart contract projects you are assigned to work on. A quick study of the documentation will help you to gain a basic knowledge of the project and its specifics, like use cases, design, and the architecture of the smart contract.
You should also establish communication with the team, as it will help you gain insights into the different parts of the code and their functionalities.
Reviewing the code
It involves reviewing the code line by line and looking for widespread and reported vulnerabilities to which a smart contract is susceptible. This can affect specific methods like deploying an attract against the contract and how it acts against it. Auditors do it to identify common vulnerabilities that can be used to attack the contract later.
Testing the code for vulnerabilities
As an auditor, this is your main responsibility to check the code to identify the bugs and errors before the contract is executed. Several methods, like unit and integration testing, can be used to look for vulnerabilities. While unit testing is performed to look for specific errors in the code, integration testing is done to look for a wide range of vulnerabilities that can expose a smart contract to several attacks.
Other methods to test a code include manual and automated testing, both of which require very skilled personnel who can use their skills to look for flaws in the code. Manual testing is done when automated tools like Smart Check, Manticore, and Solium fail to asses the code as the auditor desires. Sometimes these tools don’t align with the smart contract’s objective or use case, making the role of the smart contract auditor more important. Automated testing is a very important skill that requires using the abovementioned tools to assess and evaluate the contract fully.
Report about the vulnerability
Once the testing is done, the auditor prepares a comprehensive report on the contract that includes specific details about the vulnerabilities and all the assessments performed. The report contains detailed information about the flaws and recommends fixing them and ensuring security from future attacks.
Qualifications and Skills Needed to Become an Intelligent Contract Auditor
To become a smart contract auditor, you should have a degree in computer science, engineering, or a related field, or if you want to learn the practical aspect of auditing, online courses can be a great option. Additionally, you need strong analytical skills, attention to detail, and knowledge of Blockchain technology, programming languages, and smart contract development. We will discuss them one by one.
Education and Other Qualifications
Like every field, the job of a smart contract auditor requires certain education and qualification that is important for you to learn before you look for a job as an auditor in the Blockchain sector. Among these, traditional degrees and online certifications are proper ways to get educated about the job role and the Blockchain. We will look into the pros and cons of both in detail now.
You can obtain a traditional degree from any institute that provides courses in computer science. This degree will help you learn the basics of computer science and programming. The conventional degree is usually avoided in Blockchain as it is generally expensive, and there are no particular courses to learn about Blockchain, which will compel you to look for certification from other sources in the future.
Another way of getting educated by Blockchain and learning smart contract auditing is through online certifications and courses. Over the last few years, online portals have become the single largest source where beginners and skilled individuals can learn about the Blockchain and the skills needed to perform and fill various job roles in the sector. Getting certified in smart contract auditing demonstrates your expertise in the field and can help you stand out from other candidates.
While multiple sites offer certifications, Blockchain Council has proved itself a reliable source for learning about everything related to Blockchain. They have courses curated by experts in the fields, making your journey to becoming a smart contract auditor much easier.
Certain knowledge sets and skills will assist you in becoming a skilled, smart contract auditor. Most of these skills are easy to learn and will help you to perform the job efficiently.
Develop a strong foundation in Blockchain technology
To become a smart contract auditor, you must have a solid understanding of Blockchain technology. This involves learning the basics of distributed ledgers, consensus mechanisms, and smart contract architecture. As an auditor, you should know about Blockchains like Ethereum, which helps develop the smart contract, and programming languages like solidity, which is used to build a smart contract. These basic concepts help you to understand how the process works and what role you have to play for your organization as a smart contract auditor.
Learn programming languages relevant to smart contracts
You may think that as a smart contract auditor, you can be proficient in coding and learning to program. To perform the job of an auditor properly, it is important to have a good knowledge of coding so that you can assess and evaluate the contract properly, look for vulnerabilities, and recommend solutions to fix them. The job of a smart contract auditor and developer can be very similar regarding the skill they must possess to do their job properly.
Gain experience in software development and testing
Experience in software development and testing is crucial to becoming a smart contract auditor. This involves learning software development methodologies, such as Agile and Scrum, and testing techniques, such as unit testing and integration testing which we have already discussed.
Experience and practical knowledge also come in handy when looking for jobs, as most companies look for individuals with experience working with smart contracts. Thus, it’s important to interact with popular smart agreements and learn about them. As a smart contract auditor, you will interact with similar contracts and algorithms more frequently than expected. Hence, a comprehensive knowledge of how different smart contracts work and a deep understanding of their architectures is something you should aspire for.
Build a professional network in the Blockchain industry
Networking with industry professionals can help you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the field. Attending conferences, meetups, and workshops can help you make valuable connections. While these are some upfront advantages of networking, there are some other advantages too, which may not appear when you hear about them. One such benefit is learning about the new vulnerabilities and attacks related to smart contracts. You can learn about them through different communities related to Blockchain and take necessary action before it becomes a threat to your project and organization. These small things can help you to become an important and valued asset for your organization.
As a smart contract auditor, having a keen eye and good analytical skills is extremely important. It will help you perform your job better and do it more efficiently. Auditing is a tough job, and it requires individuals who have problem-solving abilities and can look for vulnerabilities that may not be apparent from others’ perspectives.
Difference between an Auditor and a Developer
This question must have come into your mind too, what makes a smart contract auditor different from a smart contract developer? When it comes to skills and qualifications, both roles have similar requirements. But the difference lies in the responsibilities and the duties they have to perform. While a smart contract developer has to focus on building a smart contract, deploying it, and fixing it, an auditor focuses on ensuring the contract is secure and ready to be deployed.
While both are equally important for an organization, Being a smart contract auditor, you often have to work on development, especially when recommending a solution for a vulnerability. This makes the job of an auditor more complex and full of responsibilities.
Tools and Resources for Smart Contract Auditors
To perform smart contract auditing properly and efficiently, it is essential to use proper frameworks like hardhat and truffle and other useful tools to make the auditing process easier.
The auditors that use these tools are more likely to save time and cost, which goes into the process of smart contract auditing.
Overview of popular intelligent contract auditing tools and platforms
Several intelligent contract auditing tools and platforms, including Mythril, Remix, and Truffle, are available. These tools are designed to help auditors review and analyze smart contract codes. While Mythril acts and truffle act as a framework used to hunt bugs present in a smart contract, the remix is used for various purposes, from developing a smart contract to assessing and evaluating the code properly.
Other important tools include slithering, scribbling, and foundry. Slither is a static analyzer that helps find vulnerabilities and even prints visual presentations to understand the concept comprehensively. Scribble defines a domain-specific language that determines a smart contract’s property. Foundry is also a smart contract development tool like a remix that helps create a file where smart contracts’ codebase can be evaluated efficiently.
Online resources for learning about smart contract auditing
There are a variety of resources that you can find online to learn about smart contract auditing. These can range from various online forums to individual blogs written by experts in the field. However, you should learn from credible resources, and the certification is accepted by the companies and organizations operating in the Blockchain industry. One such platform is Blockchain Council which has courses on all the skills you need as a smart contract auditor. You can visit their site today and look for the courses and certifications you are looking for at an extremely reasonable price.
Challenges and Opportunities for Smart Contract Auditors
Being a smart contract auditor comes with its challenges and opportunities that one should know before making any important decision related to their career. Auditing might look like a job that can be performed with a little effort from a distance, but the experience of experienced auditors tells a different story.
Even small mistakes can have huge implications on the smart contract, and even the overall project, the complexity of code makes it extremely hard for auditors to perform the job sometimes. Even then, the role provides many opportunities, especially for individuals ready to put effort into upskilling themselves. Let’s take a look at these notions in detail.
Common challenges faced by intelligent contract auditors
Smart contract auditors face several challenges, including the complexity of smart contract code, evolving regulations, and the evolving nature of Blockchain technology. Additionally, smart contract auditors must keep up with the latest trends and developments in the industry to remain competitive.
Apart from these challenges, there are several other challenges that you will have to face as a smart contract auditor:
- Not an assurance of security
LiFi lost an enormous $600,000 in a Defi hack in 2022. This incident tells us that even after a comprehensive round of auditing, the smart contract may be susceptible to the hack. This makes organizations and clients question the auditing process and makes auditors’ jobs even harder.
- Determining the extent of auditing
As a smart contract auditor, you must determine which part of the code requires more auditing and how many resources should be directed toward it. Auditing the entire codebase can be an extremely time-consuming and expensive process hence the extent you audit the code without making it vulnerable to attack, an extremely valuable skill that most organizations value.
Incomplete documentation is one of the biggest headaches for an auditor. It makes the process extremely hard as they can only determine the objective and use case of different protocols and sections of the code with the help of the developers who wrote it, making the processing time-consuming and frustrating for the auditor.
Emerging opportunities in the field of smart contract auditing
As Blockchain technology continues to gain traction, the demand for smart contract auditors is expected to increase. Additionally, the emergence of decentralized finance (DeFi) has created new opportunities for auditors to ensure the security of smart contracts in the DeFi space. There need to be more experts who can work as smart contract auditors. Thus the auditor is one of the highest-paying jobs in the field, and there are plenty of opportunities for individuals looking to work as an auditor.
As more industries like finance, supply chain management, and real estate adopt Blockchain, the need for auditors will increase by a threshold. If you are a beginner, this is the perfect time to polish your skills and start learning the basics. As we discussed, there is a huge chance you might land a life-changing opportunity.
How much does a Smart Contract Auditor make?
We will now discuss the financial aspect of becoming a smart contract auditor. Interestingly, smart contract auditors have two types of pay: fixed and skill-based. Fixed payment accounts for audit work hours, whereas skill-based compensation is based on the severity of the vulnerabilities found by auditors. The official numbers differ for each company, but a junior can earn as high as $100 per hour while an expert makes from $250 to $1000 per hour for their contribution. When hired on a fixed basis, companies like chainlink labs pay a yearly salary of $100k-$150k to their smart contract auditors.
The demand for skilled individuals who can do smart contract auditing will only increase over time. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to become a smart contract auditor, including the role of a smart contract auditor, qualifications and skills needed, steps to becoming a smart contract auditor, tools and resources for auditors, and challenges and opportunities in the field.
Becoming a smart contract auditor requires a strong foundation in Blockchain technology, proficiency in programming languages, experience in software development and testing, and certifications. It is also important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in the industry and build a professional network. By following these steps, aspiring smart contract auditors can establish themselves as experts in the field and contribute to the growth and security of Blockchain networks. If you are thinking of learning about Blockchain and its other roles, it’s the best time. The advent of new technology and rising demand for different related services result in a spike in job roles and requirements that individuals like you can fulfill.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Smart contracts can be audited for security vulnerabilities using manual and automated testing methods. Auditors can use tools such as code analyzers, penetration testing, and vulnerability scanning to identify potential risks and weaknesses in the contract code.
A smart contract audit can provide several benefits, such as identifying potential security risks, ensuring compliance with industry standards and regulations, and improving overall contract performance and efficiency. Audits can also help build stakeholder trust and reduce the risk of contract failures or disputes.
Smart contracts can be updated or modified after deployment, but doing so requires careful consideration and planning to avoid disrupting the contract’s integrity or functionality. Any changes to the code should be thoroughly tested and audited to ensure they do not introduce new vulnerabilities or errors.
Common mistakes identified through a smart contract audit include logic errors, data overflow or underflow, race conditions, and access control issues. Auditors can also check for compliance with industry standards and best practices, such as the ERC-20 or ERC-721 token standards for Ethereum-based smart contracts.
Yes, there are regulatory compliance considerations when implementing smart contracts, particularly in industries such as finance and healthcare. Auditors can help ensure smart contracts meet relevant legal and regulatory requirements, such as KYC/AML compliance or HIPAA regulations.