UMA Optimistic Governor Audit

This security assessment was prepared by OpenZeppelin, protecting the open economy.

Table of Contents


From 2022-04-25
To 2022-05-10
Total Issues
Critical Severity Issues
High Severity Issues
Medium Severity Issues
Low Severity Issues
Notes & Additional Information


We audited three separate sets of code, specifically:

  1. The UMAprotocol/protocol repository at commit fca8e24275e928f7ddf660b5651eb93b87f70afb.In scope were the following contracts:
    • OptimisticGovernor.sol
  2. The UMAprotocol/protocol repository PR #3880 at commit acfb166ef521c1b6ab13a82acf5eee6e16ffd9e9.In scope were the following contracts:
    • Lockable.sol
    • OptimisticOracle.sol
    • OptimisticOracleInterface.sol
  3. After the initial audit UMA requested us to audit the UMAprotocol/protocol repository PR #3911 at commit 75bdffecdae5c3f0c7a7546e65c99b0be02be223. We included PR in scope and audited it.

System Overview

The Optimistic Governor contract is meant to control an “avatar” that complies with the Gnosis’ Zodiac framework. The target use case is that the avatar is a Gnosis Safe that holds DAO funds and is capable of controlling DAO operations. The Optimistic Governor aims to allow anyone to control DAO funds and activities as long as their proposed activities conform to a set of natural language rules that the DAO has made publicly available. This is facilitated via the UMA Optimistic Oracle, which becomes the final arbiter in case proposals are contested for not conforming to DAO rules. In the case where proposals are not contested during their “liveness” period, they then become executable by anyone.

The unrelated Optimistic Oracle PR we were asked to review adds a mechanism to suspend reentrancy guard protections to allow for callbacks in the body of nonRentrant functions (where such callbacks would not otherwise be permissable). Additionally, the Oracle was modified to support “event-based” price requests – that is price requests after some event in the future occurs, rather than at a specific point in time.

Privileged Roles

The Optimistic Governor contract has only one privileged role, which is that of the contract owner. The owner is able to set the bond amount and bond collateral token required to initiate a proposal. The owner can also set the rules that proposals must conform to, set the “liveness” time (window in which a proposal is contestable), and set the identifier used by the Optimistic Oracle to support Optimistic Governance proposals. Finally, the owner can delete specific proposals at any time and can renounce and transfer ownership.

Security Considerations

The UMA team clearly spent time considering security implications of the Optimistic Governor as evidenced by the UMIP that is required for the Optimistic Oracle to support this new use case. However, not all security implications are touched on in the UMIP. Some additional considerations follow:

First and foremost, the theoretical possibility of corrupting the Optimistic Oracle itself, by essentially bribing UMA token holders to enrich themselves at the expense of Optimistically Governed DAO(s) can not be disregarded. The UMA team has a good understanding of how to increase the costs of such corruption, in fact their whitepaper covers the topic at length, but at this time it is unclear if all of the corruption mitigation mechanisms are fully in place and actively enforced. The risks of corruption, as well as any countermeasures in place, need to be well understood by DAOs looking to use the Optimistic Governor in production.

Additionally, because the protocol is so flexible, DAOs that use it need to be fully aware of what the protocol can guarantee and what it cannot. DAOs have an immense responsibility not just for making sure that their rules are as explicit and well-defined as possible, but also for choosing where to host such rules. The protocol allows for rules to be submitted as a URI, in which case the DAO needs to consider if those rules are immune from being tampered with or are at risk of being taken off line. The flexible nature of the “rule” argument also allows rules – or a subset of rules – to be stored on chain. This approach may be worth the associated costs depending on the individual DAO.

If the avatar is managed by some means other than the Optimistic Governor, for instance if it has an “owner”, then Optimistic Governance can only work as long as the other means of avatar management do not interfere. The ability to outright delete proposals and modify parameters for making proposals can undermine the entire Optimistic Governance model depending on how those permissions are managed independently of the Optimistic Governor.

On the other hand, if the Optimistic Governor is the sole means of managing an avatar, it becomes even more essential that the nuances and limitations of the model are well understood. Even ostensibly rule-abiding proposals could be dangerous. If the transactions to be executed as part of a proposal involve upgradeable contracts, then the code that ends up being executed could well be different than that which existed at the time the proposal was made. Savvy or malicious actors could frontrun execution calls with contract logic upgrade calls. DAOs must be vigilant against this and should consider how to handle upgradeable code explicitly in their rules.

Transactions could be crafted to look safe or even desirable when called, but then be completely malicious if they are delegate called. Which context a call is executed in comes down to a simple uint flag attached to a transaction. DAOs using the Optimistic Oracle need to be vigilant against potential transaction phishing attacks that use the wrong context for a call.

Finally, the Zodiac framework allows for additional modules, modifiers, and guards – essentially smart contract middleware that can sit between EOA interactions with the Optimistic Governor and interactions with the avatar. These entire code chains must be well understood as they could potentially modify the final behavior of the avatar in ways that inspection of proposals and of the Optimistic Governor on its own cannot anticipate.


Here we present our findings.

Medium Severity

Change of collateral could result in unintended bond value

The OptimisticGovernor contract requires users to provide a preconfigured quantity of an ERC20 token as bond to propose a set of transactions. If the set of transactions is rejected, the proposer will lose their bond.

To change the collateral token address and its amount the contract owner will generally have to call two separate functions, namely setBond to set the new amount and setCollateral to set the new ERC20 address of the bond token.

If the contract owner is an EOA, then setBond and setCollateral will be called in two separate transactions which allows a third party to call proposeTransactions in between. This will lead to the creation of a proposal with an unintended bond value. In fact, the realized bond could potentially have a much lower value than intended.

Consider renaming setCollateral to setCollateralAndBond and updating both the bond value and the bond token address in the same function call.

Update: Fixed as of commit 5794c2040cc85aced20ef1145aa0329a1c8d8236 in pull request #3912.

Lack of event emission after sensitive actions

In the OptimisticGovernor contract, the setUpsetBondsetCollateralsetRulessetLiveness, and setIdentifier functions do not emit relevant events after executing sensitive actions.

Consider emitting events after sensitive changes take place (including in the constructor and/or initializer), to facilitate tracking and notify off-chain clients following the contracts’ activity.

Update: Fixed as of commit f6c3d17ae9e31d2f337d3f887647731959096663 in pull request #3913 and commit 9b5b6d3f4b1168157344c1b93a2c2aa695f19580 in pull request #3914.

Lack of input validation

The OptimisticGovernor contract has a general lack of input validation. For instance, the setUp function does not validate that the _finder argument is non-zero, which can lead to a non-functional module instance. Nor does setUp validate that the _rules argument is non-empty, which could lead to a loss of funds if optimistic governance proposals are the sole way to manage an Avatar.

In the same function, _liveness is checked to be greater than zero, in line with the Optimistic Oracle’s lower bound requirement. However, setUp does not check that _liveness is less than 5200 weeks, which is the Optimistic Oracle’s upper bound requirement.

The setLiveness and setRules functions have the same sort of lacking input validation as setUp does.

Both the setUp and setBond functions allow a zero bond, which the OptimisticOracle will accept. However, because of the overall lack of input validation, it becomes difficult to discern if a zero bond is a legitimately acceptable value or simply an oversight of the validation logic.

To avoid errors and unexpected system behavior, consider implementing require statements to validate all user-controlled input. Where zero-values are acceptable, consider leaving inline documentation to that effect to avoid ambiguity.

Update: Fixed as of commit 661b984edcbab12b7e0ed9f9e9739169cb732c33 in pull request #3915, commit 9b5b6d3f4b1168157344c1b93a2c2aa695f19580 in pull request #3914, commit 55e8f77e748619052b885ce191fee18984a44f29 in pull request #3950 and commit f3d2431f5fb594b6dd5d3a92d6bb1b91d2a25cfe in pull request #3962.

Mismatches between UMIP and implementation

In UMIP-152, the documentation of several data structures is significantly different from their implementation in OptmisticGovenor.sol.

Differences can be found in the Transaction and Proposal structs as well as the data format of ancilliaryData.

Consider updating the documentation to correspond to the implementation. Additionally, in light of the removal of the module address from ancilliaryData, consider adding further documentation to explain how uniqueness of a proposal identifier across all users of the Optimistic Oracle is maintained.

Update: not fixed, UMA’s reply: “will be fixed in separate PR updating the UMIP after code is finalized”.

Low Severity

Events lacking information

We identified two events which could benefit from being more complete. Specifically, the ProposalDeleted and TransactionsProposed events.

Currently, ProposalDeleted event emissions have an ambiguous interpretation. This is because such emissions can originate from either the deleteRejectedProposal function or the deleteProposal function under different circumstances. To reduce ambiguity, consider augmenting the event so that it also emits details about the proposal status and the msg.sender when a proposal is deleted.

The TransactionsProposed event currently emits the time at which a proposal is created, but it does not emit the liveness time the proposal is subject to or a timestamp that indicates when the proposal needs to be disputed by. As this is likely to be of interest at the time a proposal is created, consider emitting enough information to determine when a proposal must be disputed by.

Update: Fixed as of commit c3ae271a3e9a10dd69fe33ef44417633e53043ec in pull request #3916.

Duplicated code

There are instances of duplicated code within the codebase. Duplicated code can lead to issues later in the development lifecycle and leaves the project more prone to the introduction of errors later if functionality changes are not replicated across all instances of code that should be identical.

Within the OptimisticGovernor contract the setUp function repeats code found in several of the set* “setter” functions.

Rather than duplicating code, consider reusing existing functions as needed or having just one contract or library containing the duplicated code and using it whenever the duplicated functionality is required.

Update: Fixed as of commit 9b5b6d3f4b1168157344c1b93a2c2aa695f19580 in pull request #3914.

Misleading inline documentation

There are instances of misleading or imprecise documentation throughout the codebase.

In particular, in OptimisticGovernor.sol:

  • The public sync function has a comment beneath it that reads, “Sync the oracle contract addresses as well as the final fee.” In fact, the function merely makes a call to the internal _sync function that then sets only the optimisticOracle address. No other address or final fee value is stored.
  • On line 69 the NatSpec states, “Bond required (must be at least as large as final fee for collateral type)”. However, there is no comparison made.
  • The NatSpec of the _originalTime parameter of the deleteRejectedProposal function is a copy paste error from the line above describing the _proposalId parameter.
  • On line 246 and line 279 there is an inline comment that reads, “This will revert if the price has not settled”. This is not as nuanced as it could be. The calls the comments refer to will revert if the price has not and can not currently be settled; the calls can actually settle the the request if the price has not yet been settled but is settle-able.

Additionally, in OptimisticOracle.sol:

  • On line 172 the comment explains the inequality check that follows as: “This ensures that the ancillary data is below the OO limit”. In fact, the inequality test that the ancillary data is less than or equal to the Optimistic Oracle (OO) ancillary data limit.

Clear inline documentation is fundamental to outline the intentions of the code. Mismatches between them and the implementation can lead to serious misconceptions about how the system is expected to behave. Therefore, consider fixing these errors to avoid potential confusion for developers, users, auditors alike.

Update: Fixed as of commit 6a3e00d72832e663f191920a796b5cbe52aea774 in pull request #3917 and commit d1a6421e4331861708a5f5bb7b20072d042d17ff in pull request #3963.

Proposals can be deleted repeatedly

In the OptimisticGovernor contract there is no check that a proposal exists before it is deleted with the deleteProposal function. Similarly, a rejected proposal can be deleted repeatedly via the deleteRejectedProposal function.

Although there is no clear economic incentive to do delete a proposal numerous times – in fact it will waste gas – the repeated emission of identical ProposalDeleted events could be confusing for parties monitoring for such events.

Consider allowing proposals to be deleted only if they have not already been deleted.

Update: Fixed as of commit deeb7386be6d1f14c8999fe5316c9feb80b5d0d2 in pull request #3918.

The deleteProposal function may not work as expected with all avatars

The deleteProposal function allows the owner to delete a particular proposal so that it will not be executed. In the current implementation of the OptimisticGovernor contract the owner and the avatar are the same address. In general, an avatar does not necessarily have the ability to send arbitrary transactions without having enabled some module specifically for this purpose.

If an avatar were to have only the OptimisticGovernor module enabled, then it could not initiate a transaction in any way other than calling the proposeTransactions function. However, in this case the deleteProposal function would not work as expected.

Consider a scenario where an owner would like to delete an existing proposal via creating a new proposal:

If the owner creates a proposal to call deleteProposal via proposeTransactions, then the expiration time of the deleteProposal proposal will be greater than expire time of the original proposal which the owner wished to delete. Thus the owner would not be guaranteed to be able delete the original proposal because it could be executed before the deletion proposal passed the liveness threshold.

If the owner wanted to dispute the proposal they were trying to delete, then they could do so. But the assumption that only proposals which break the rules may not alway hold. Additionally, if the proposal “technically” followed the rules, but only elucidated how the rules themselves needed to be updated, any such rule update proposal would also run into the same sort of liveness delay dilemma.

Consider better documenting assumptions about the capabilities of the avatar and what may happen if those assumptions do not hold. Additionally, if having an avatar exclusively controlled by an OptimisticGovernor module is a reasonable use case, then consider allowing some other form of proposal deletion capabilities that can bypass the standard liveness condition in case of emergencies.

Update: not fixed, UMA’s reply: “will be fixed in separate PR updating the UMIP after code is finalized”.

Notes & Additional Information

Commented out code

The proposeTransactions and executeProposal functions in the OptimisticGovernor contract include commented out lines of code.

As the purpose of these lines is unclear and may confuse future developers and external contributors, consider removing them from the codebase. If they are meant to provide alternate implementation options, then consider extracting them to a separate document where they can be accompanied by a more thorough explanation of their purpose.

Update: Fixed as of commit e35c199cc774066c4b65bcec8f82cffcc5aeabd4 in pull request #3919.

Coding style deviates from Solidity Style Guide

In the OptimisticGovernor contract the private _getOptimisticOracle and _isContract functions are declared before the internal functions.

This function order deviates from the recommended order of: constructor, receive, fallback, external, public, internal, private.

To increase overall code readability, consider reordering these functions and conforming to the Solidity Style Guide where possible.

Update: Fixed as of commit e35c199cc774066c4b65bcec8f82cffcc5aeabd4 in pull request #3920.

Disabling reentrancy protection is prone to error

In the OptimisticOracle contract all external functions are protected with a nonReentrant modifier. However, in designated places the user is allowed to perform a callback into the OptimisticOracle contract. This is achieved via the functions _startReentrantGuardDisabled and _endReentrantGuardDisabled which temporarily disables and manually re-enables reentrancy protection, respectively.

These functions must be used in pairs to perform as expected; that process is manual and potentially error prone.

To reduce the likelihood of error, consider including a continuous integration or custom linter check for pairwise matching _start and _end functions and for containment within a function that uses a nonReentrant modifier.

Update: acknowledged by UMA: “This sort of linting would be helpful, but at the moment, it’s unclear how something like this could be implemented without a linter that can interpret solidity that also supports custom plugins.”; no immediate code changes are needed.

immutable value could be used

In the OptimisticGovernor contract the finder variable is only ever set in the setUp initialization function. The value is not modifiable after deployment.

In practice, the finder implementation may generally be modified solely by the UMA team. Only after such an update to the implementation would users want to update their finder values. Then, if users do wish to migrate to the new finder address, they will need to deploy a new OptimisticGovernor module anyway.

In this case, consider marking the finder immutable and setting it directly in the constructor of the module to better signal intent and to reduce users’ operational gas costs. Note that this deployment scheme would require the master OptimisticGovernor module to be redeployed after finder implementation updates before users could redeploy their instances of the OptimisticGovernor module.

Update: Fixed as of commit 7aae2aa34eabf7b3d5896e3537a9cfc8b17b4e6c in pull request #3921.

Some public functions could be external

The setBondsetCollateralsetRulessetLiveness, and setIdentifier functions are marked public despite the fact that they are never used internally and could therefor be declared as external.

Consider declaring functions with only the most restrictive visibility required to reduce the overall surface for error and better reflect intent.

Update: Fixed as of commit 3fdebf2d48263f5ec9a73255853874535141e220 in pull request #3922.

Suboptimal struct packing

In the OptimisticGovernor contract the Transaction struct declares an Enum.Operation member labeled operation. This member is implicitly of type uint8 since there are only two potential values for the underlying enum.

As operation is declared after a dynamic bytes declaration and at the end of the struct definition, if stored it would take an entire storage slot for itself. Consider declaring the operation member either before or after the address member labeled to in order to take advantage of more efficient struct packing in storage. Optimized data structures may be useful for future iterations of the system or for any systems that may integrate with the OptimisticGovernor contract and would like to store transactions.

Update: Fixed as of commit 556cd89217c3b96dde2f6dfc394f67a0742e48b3 in pull request #3923.

Typographical errors

The codebase contains the following typographical errors:

In OptimisticGovernor.sol:

  • On line 37address need to should be address needs to.
  • On line 167proposals should be proposal's.
  • On line 292overriden should be overridden.

Consider correcting these typos to improve the overall readability of the codebase.

Update: Fixed as of commit 745a64aeb0c0b61b214931310d08fbe8ac155f0f in pull request #3924.

Undocumented implicit approval requirements

In the OptimisticGovernor contract, the proposeTransactions function implicitly assumes that it has been granted an appropriate allowance of collateral tokens from the proposer when it attempts to safeTransferFrom the totalBond.

In favor of explicitness and to improve the overall clarity of the codebase, consider documenting all approval requirements in the relevant functions’ inline documentation.

Update: Fixed as of commit c6bdb5e02b57d4f4135feca80d08671725141226 in pull request #3925.

Unexplained and unused constants

Throughout the OptimisticGovernor contract, to check if a proposal has been approved by the Optimistic Oracle the literal value int256 1e18 is used, where 1e18 signifies that a proposal was not rejected by the Optimistic Oracle.

Similarly, in the update to the OptimisticOracle contract the function proposedPrice uses a magic value type(int256).min to indicate that an event-based proposal cannot be resolved, because the event has not yet taken place.

Lastly, in the OptimisticOracle contract the MAX_ADDED_ANCILLARY_DATA constant is declared on line 129. On the next line the constant should be used, but instead the value of the constant is used directly to derive another constant.

To improve the overall readability of the codebase and to facilitate refactoring, consider defining a constant for every literal or magic value used, giving it a clear and self-explanatory name, and then using it in place of literal values. Also consider adding an inline comment explaining how literal values were calculated or why they were chosen.

Update: Fixed as of commit c7babc3d3082200b55901783f4ceabae82df1cea in pull request #3909.

Unnecessary cast

In the setUp function of the OptimisticGovernor contract, _collateral is unnecessarily cast to an address type.

To improve the overall legibility of the codebase, consider removing this unnecessary cast.

Update: Fixed as of commit 2819d071df9a3bbcc8a2d15700d6140ae8e5ad9d in pull request #3928.

Unnecessary imports

The codebase contains the following unnecessary imports:

In OptimisticGovernor.sol:

  • On line 13 OptimisticOracle.sol is unnecessarily imported.

Consider removing unnecessary imports to improve code clarity.

Update: Fixed as of commit 5833fce724930ba27a01855dcbaf03bcfe7fa7a2 in pull request #3927.

Unused “using for” directive

The OptimisticOracle contract includes the directive using AncillaryData for bytes, even though none of the library methods are ever used directly on a bytes value.

Consider removing the directive if it will remain unused.

Update: Fixed as of commit 2ee3f4b2affb7049a156c93705d9918ce5c3a670 in pull request #3910.


0 critical and 0 high severity issues were found. Some changes were proposed to follow best practices and reduce the potential attack surface.


Severity Levels

Critical Severity

The issue puts a large number of users’ sensitive information at risk, or is reasonably likely to lead to catastrophic impact for client’s reputation or serious financial implications for client and users.

High Severity

The issue puts a large number of users’ sensitive information at risk, or is reasonably likely to lead to catastrophic impact for client’s reputation or serious financial implications for client and users.

Medium Severity

The issue puts a subset of users’ sensitive information at risk, would be detrimental for the client’s reputation if exploited, or is reasonably likely to lead to moderate financial impact.

Low Severity

The risk is relatively small and could not be exploited on a recurring basis, or is a risk that the client has indicated its low impact in view of the client’s business circumstances.

Notes & Additional Information

The risk is relatively small and could not be exploited on a recurring basis, or is a risk that the client has indicated its low impact in view of the client’s business circumstances. It may also include non-security-relevant content for purely informational purposes.