Evidence Handling

Tendermint blocks can include Evidence that indicates if a validator committed malicious behavior. The relevant information is forwarded to the application as ABCI Evidence in abci.RequestBeginBlock so that the validator can be punished accordingly.


The Cosmos SDK handles two types of evidence inside the ABCI BeginBlock:

  • DuplicateVoteEvidence,

  • LightClientAttackEvidence.

The evidence module handles these two evidence types the same way. First, the Cosmos SDK converts the Tendermint concrete evidence type to an SDK Evidence interface using Equivocation as the concrete type.

// Equivocation implements the Evidence interface.
message Equivocation {
  int64                     height            = 1;
  google.protobuf.Timestamp time              = 2;
  int64                     power             = 3;
  string                    consensus_address = 4;

For some Equivocation submitted in block to be valid, it must satisfy:

Evidence.Timestamp >= block.Timestamp - MaxEvidenceAge


  • Evidence.Timestamp is the timestamp in the block at height Evidence.Height

  • block.Timestamp is the current block timestamp.

If valid Equivocation evidence is included in a block, the validator's stake is reduced (slashed) by SlashFractionDoubleSign as defined by the x/slashing module of what their stake was when the infraction occurred, rather than when the evidence was discovered. We want to "follow the stake", i.e., the stake that contributed to the infraction should be slashed, even if it has since been redelegated or started unbonding.

In addition, the validator is permanently jailed and tombstoned to make it impossible for that validator to ever re-enter the validator set.

The Equivocation evidence is handled as follows:

func (k Keeper) HandleEquivocationEvidence(ctx sdk.Context, evidence *types.Equivocation) {
	logger := k.Logger(ctx)
	consAddr := evidence.GetConsensusAddress()

	if _, err := k.slashingKeeper.GetPubkey(ctx, consAddr.Bytes()); err != nil {
		// Ignore evidence that cannot be handled.
		// NOTE: We used to panic with:
		// `panic(fmt.Sprintf("Validator consensus-address %v not found", consAddr))`,
		// but this couples the expectations of the app to both Tendermint and
		// the simulator.  Both are expected to provide the full range of
		// allowable but none of the disallowed evidence types.  Instead of
		// getting this coordination right, it is easier to relax the
		// constraints and ignore evidence that cannot be handled.

	// calculate the age of the evidence
	infractionHeight := evidence.GetHeight()
	infractionTime := evidence.GetTime()
	ageDuration := ctx.BlockHeader().Time.Sub(infractionTime)
	ageBlocks := ctx.BlockHeader().Height - infractionHeight

	// Reject evidence if the double-sign is too old. Evidence is considered stale
	// if the difference in time and number of blocks is greater than the allowed
	// parameters defined.
	cp := ctx.ConsensusParams()
	if cp != nil && cp.Evidence != nil {
		if ageDuration > cp.Evidence.MaxAgeDuration && ageBlocks > cp.Evidence.MaxAgeNumBlocks {
				"ignored equivocation; evidence too old",
				"validator", consAddr,
				"infraction_height", infractionHeight,
				"max_age_num_blocks", cp.Evidence.MaxAgeNumBlocks,
				"infraction_time", infractionTime,
				"max_age_duration", cp.Evidence.MaxAgeDuration,

	validator := k.stakingKeeper.ValidatorByConsAddr(ctx, consAddr)
	if validator == nil || validator.IsUnbonded() {
		// Defensive: Simulation doesn't take unbonding periods into account, and
		// Tendermint might break this assumption at some point.

	if ok := k.slashingKeeper.HasValidatorSigningInfo(ctx, consAddr); !ok {
		panic(fmt.Sprintf("expected signing info for validator %s but not found", consAddr))

	// ignore if the validator is already tombstoned
	if k.slashingKeeper.IsTombstoned(ctx, consAddr) {
			"ignored equivocation; validator already tombstoned",
			"validator", consAddr,
			"infraction_height", infractionHeight,
			"infraction_time", infractionTime,

		"confirmed equivocation",
		"validator", consAddr,
		"infraction_height", infractionHeight,
		"infraction_time", infractionTime,

	// We need to retrieve the stake distribution which signed the block, so we
	// subtract ValidatorUpdateDelay from the evidence height.
	// Note, that this *can* result in a negative "distributionHeight", up to
	// -ValidatorUpdateDelay, i.e. at the end of the
	// pre-genesis block (none) = at the beginning of the genesis block.
	// That's fine since this is just used to filter unbonding delegations & redelegations.
	distributionHeight := infractionHeight - sdk.ValidatorUpdateDelay

	// Slash validator. The `power` is the int64 power of the validator as provided
	// to/by Tendermint. This value is validator.Tokens as sent to Tendermint via
	// ABCI, and now received as evidence. The fraction is passed in to separately
	// to slash unbonding and rebonding delegations.
		evidence.GetValidatorPower(), distributionHeight,

	// Jail the validator if not already jailed. This will begin unbonding the
	// validator if not already unbonding (tombstoned).
	if !validator.IsJailed() {
		k.slashingKeeper.Jail(ctx, consAddr)

	k.slashingKeeper.JailUntil(ctx, consAddr, types.DoubleSignJailEndTime)
	k.slashingKeeper.Tombstone(ctx, consAddr)

The slashing, jailing, and tombstoning calls are delegated through the x/slashing module that emits informative events and finally delegates calls to the x/staking module.

Last updated