Is there any documentation on how to gracefully and securely wind up a relay, parallel or on-demand (aka parathreads) chain?

Here the chain(s) are in the wild/live/production. They could be either permissionless or permissioned.

Securely, means protecting the integrity of long-lived data - data whose value/sensitivity outlives the blockchain.

Some of the topics are:

  • Who... is required to participate...
  • What... has to be done...
  • When... are the above required to be done...
  • How... are the above to be done...

... in order to shut down a blockchain (parallel or relay).

  • 1
    You need to be a bit more specific. What do you mean with a parallel or on-demand chain? What about zombienet? Jul 20, 2023 at 12:26
  • I've added links to relevant details. Zombienet is a test tool. I'm asking about a chain in the wild. Jul 20, 2023 at 23:13

1 Answer 1


It looks like you are asking how to stop a parachain from running.

If you have a permissioned parachain, then you as the controller of the parachain collators, just need to stop letting collators submit blocks, or stop submitting them yourself.

If you have a permissionless blockchain with its own governance and collator selection, then there is really nothing you can do since the community is in control of continuing the blockchain.

If you want to ritualistically halt your blockchain, you can consider having you or your community vote to upgrade the chain to a runtime upgrade which will brick your chain. A lot of chains have done this by accident, but you can of course do this easily on purpose.

Assuming your blockchain has halted, the only pieces of data left over from your chain (on the relay chain) is the latest Wasm runtime and the blockchain state root.

Polkadot does NOT hold all of your parachain data, only the state root. It is up to the collators, block indexers, and other full nodes to have the underlying data for your chain.

If you want to keep sensitive historical information about your chain around, someone will need to keep that data. It should not really matter if that data is centralized as you can always prove the data is correct by matching it to the state roots on Polkadot.

Assuming every copy of that data is deleted, there really is no easy way to recover that data or the history of your blockchain.

  • Thanks for the details. AFAICT there is no way to formally securely lock down a permissionless blockchain - say as the relay token becomes worthless it becomes viable to attack it. While permissioned chains don't have this particular vulnerability (they possibly have others) it would still be nice to have these issues systematically addressed. Say as a tutorial? Maybe the bricked-runtime scenario needs to be formalized. This way the full set of tradeoffs and risks can be assessed. Jul 23, 2023 at 3:20
  • I don't see many people asking for what you are looking for, but sure, if you are interested in making such a tutorial, I think community would support you.
    – Shawn Tabrizi
    Jul 23, 2023 at 10:00
  • > I don't see many people asking for what you are looking for... agreed. It is a glaring blind spot. IIUC, properly addressing this relay chain vulnerability requires substantial changes. For parachains (and on-demand chains?) your suggested workaround (bricking the chain) should work. But, only for as long as the relay chain token holds its value relative to the tokens held by the adversaries - correct? Jul 25, 2023 at 9:04
  • To clarify, if you brick a parachain and then an adversary gains control of the relay chain, they can unbrick the parachain and have complete control of its data. Hopefully, that is correct. If I'm right this is best addressed via a W3F RFP? Jul 25, 2023 at 9:15
  • 1
    A lot of assumptions break down if someone gains control of the relay chain. Indeed parachains are basically only as secure as the relay chain. Thank fully, the relay chain is designed to be VERY secure. I don't think there is really something specific to address here, but yeah i mean if you have something specific, you should write it down.
    – Shawn Tabrizi
    Jul 25, 2023 at 18:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.