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Centre Token Minting Contracts Audit

The Circle and Coinbase teams asked us to review and audit the minting contracts of the Centre Token. We looked at the code and now publish our results.

The code is located in the centre-tokens repository, and the files audited are Controller.sol, MintController.sol, and MasterMinter.sol in the contracts/minting directory. In particular, we have not audited other files in the Centre Token project or how the minting contracts interact with other contracts in it. The version used for this report is commit 4b9ebf3941a48e41e7363fee729035610a71ca66.

Here is our assessment and recommendations, in order of importance.

Update: Circle and Coinbase teams made some fixes based on our recommendations. We address below the fixes introduced up to commit fbb6cfeb503ece6719cd456f82e6ef1602145db3. This update covers the three originally audited files plus the new MinterManagementInterface.sol file, which was split from MintController.sol following our recommendation.

Critical Severity


High Severity


Medium Severity

Missing zero address checks

In several places in the code, addresses are passed as parameters to functions. In many of these instances, the functions do not validate that the passed address is not the address 0. In the Controller contract, this happens in functions configureController (which only checks _worker) and removeController.

In the MintController contract, on the other hand, it might be expected that the constructor sets the minterManager variable to 0, but the setMinterManager function does not prevent setting it to 0.

While this does not currently pose a security risk, consider adding checks for the passed addresses being nonzero to prevent unexpected behavior where required, or documenting the fact that a zero address is indeed a valid parameter.

Update: functions in Controller now check all passed arguments to prevent zero addresses from being set. No changes were introduced in this respect in MintController.

No way to decrement an allowance without reconfiguring minter

The MintController contract provides a mechanism to increment a minter’s allowance that only works if the minter is active, thus preventing the accidental reactivation of inactive minters, and, as described in the inline documentation, the usage of a signed transaction to reactivate a minter. This mechanism is implemented in the incrementMinterAllowance function, which in turn calls minterManager.isMinter to perform the required check.

The contract, however, provides no analogous mechanism for decreasing a minter’s allowance, meaning that this can only be achieved by “resetting” the minter through the configureMinter function.

It might well be that this is intended design and that decrementing minter allowances does not make sense in context; if this is not the case, however, consider providing this complementary functionality.

Update: the decrementMinterAllowance function was introduced to handle allowance decrements without risking undesired minter reactivation. Its implementation is such that, if the value by which to decrement the allowance is greater than the current allowance, the latter is set to zero. Consider documenting this behavior inline.

Note that no checks are here performed as to whether allowance decrements are taking place after tokens were already minted, since the actual minting logic is handled elsewhere. The interaction between minting and allowance management is outside the scope of this audit, consider running a full security audit on the corresponding contracts as well, if not done already.

Low Severity

Experimental version of Ownable used

Controller.sol imports a custom version of Ownable, which was taken from the labs repository of ZeppelinOS and later edited. This is experimental code, and, as stated in the README, not meant for production. As a side note, the import is made with import './../Ownable.sol', which has a superfluous leading ./.

Given that the project is already using OpenZeppelin, consider using its well-tested version of Ownable.

Lack of check might lead to gas burn

The incrementMinterAllowance function can be called with a parameter value of allowanceIncrement = 0. This would lead to gas expenditure with no state changes or useful computation.

Consider checking that allowanceIncrement > 0 to avoid unnecessary gas costs.

Update: the incrementMinterAllowance function now requires that its (renamed) _allowanceIncrement parameter is greater than 0.

Missing error messages in require statements

There are several require statements that provide no error messages (lines 43 and 57 in Controller.sol, and line 94 in MinterController.sol). Consider including specific and informative error messages in all require statements.

Update: all require statements now provide messages for the reverts.

Unaudited version of OpenZeppelin used

The repository in which the audited contracts are held is using openzeppelin-solidity v1.11.0. This is an outdated release, and was never audited. At the time of writing the latest stable version is v2.0.0, which has gone through an external security audit.

Consider updating the project to the newer, audited version.

Room for improvement in contracts documentation

The Centre Token minting contracts are in general well documented, and the documentation adheres to the NatSpec format. There is, however, room for improvement. First, MasterMinter.sol has no documentation at all. Second, while all contracts have a short description of each function, all comments make use of only the @dev tag among the many available in NatSpec.

Yet another instance where documentation can be improved is the following comment in Controller.sol:“set the controller of a particular _worker”. This might lead the user to think that each worker has a single controller, while the system in fact allows it to have more than one.

Finally, the comment “allows control of configure/remove minter…” in MintController seems to refer to the configureMinter and removeMinter functions, but these are not referenced using their full names.

Consider adding complete docstrings for all contracts, struct fields, state variables, mapping keys and functions, and having comments more clearly and faithfully represent the functionality of the contracts.

Update: the inline documentation has been greatly improved, covering in particular all points reported above. The documentation refers in two occasions to a MinterManagerInterface, whose correct name is MinterManagementInterface.

Notes & Additional Information:

  • Controller.sol, MintController.sol and MasterMinter.sol are using an outdated Solidity release: v0.4.24. Consider using the latest version of the Solidity compiler (v0.5.2 at the time of writing) throughout the code. removeController does not check if the controller is set before removal, allowing for subsequent calls to the function, which will confusingly emit repeated ControllerRemoved events with the same address. Consider whether this check should be included in order to avoid this behavior.
    Update: a check was added to prevent this behavior.
  • Controller explicitly defines an empty constructor, which, according to the Solidity docs, is exactly what the contract would assume if this piece of code was absent. Consider removing the empty constructor for clarity.
    Update: the empty constructor was removed.
  • Several functions (configureController and removeController in Controller, and setMinterManager in MintController) return hardcoded boolean values. Consider documenting this if it arises from the need of conforming to an interface.
    Update: these functions no longer return a boolean.
  • Several functions in the code (configureController and removeController in Controller, and setMinterManager, removeMinter, configureMinter, and incrementMinterAllowance in MintController.sol) are marked as public, but are never called from within the contract hierarchy. Consider making these functions external if they are only to be called from other contracts.
  • Consider moving MinterManagementInterface to an individual file and importing it from MinterController.sol, thus allowing it to be cleanly imported from other files in the project.
    Update: the interface now lives in its own MinterManagementInterface.sol file.
  • Consider restricting the visibility of the controllers and minterManager variables to internal or private and providing the required getter functions as a good encapsulation practice.
    Update: these variables are now internal, and the corresponding getters are in place.
  • In line 61 of MintController, the minterManager variable is implicitly converted to the address type. Starting from Solidity version v0.5.0, implicit address conversions issue an error. Consider explicitly casting minterManager to the address type in case the decision is later made to use a newer version of Solidity.
    Update: the casting is now done explicitly.
  • Repeatedly in the code (Controller.sol lines 56, 66; MintController.sol lines 60, 71, 80, 92), the public keyword appears after the custom modifiers. According to the Solidity docs on Function declaration, however, “The visibility modifier for a function should come before other modifiers”.
    Update: the ordering of the modifiers now conforms to the suggested one.
  • The line wrapping is inconsistent in the codebase. Comments appear to be wrapped at around 86 characters but some parts of the code extend beyond that limit (e.g. line 49 of MintController.sol, which goes to 128). Consider adhering to a single limit and applying it throughout. The recommended width is 80 columns.
    Update: line wrapping is now consistent throughout.
  • There is an inconsistency in function parameter naming. In Controller they all start with an underscore, while in MintController only those of constructor and setMinterManager do. Consider using underscores in all parameter names.
    Update: all parameter names now start with underscores, except only for those of the new MinterAllowanceDecremented event. Apart from this, there is an extra blank line between the declaration of this new event and the preceding ones.
  • All import statements use single quotes, double quotes are recommended in the Solidity Style Guide.
    Update: import statements now use double quotes.
  • There is a double space in line 52 of MintController.sol.
    Update: the double space was removed.
  • Functions incrementMinterAllowance and internal_setMinterAllowance in MintController are not correctly indented.
    Update: these indentation issues were resolved.


No critical or high severity issues were found. Some changes were proposed to follow best practices and reduce the potential attack surface.

Note that as of the date of publishing, the above review reflects the current understanding of known security patterns as they relate to the Centre Token minting contracts. The above should not be construed as investment advice. For general information about smart contract security, check out our thoughts here.