The Perils of Hyperfocus on L2 Solutions: A Security Wake-Up Call for Web3

While the Web3 community’s hyperfocus on Layer 2 (L2) solutions promises enhanced scalability and cost-efficiency, it inadvertently introduces significant security risks and operational bottlenecks that could undermine broader Web3 adoption and necessitates a balanced approach that includes developing robust Layer 1 (L1) infrastructures.

July 6, 2024

The Perils of Hyperfocus on L2 Solutions: A Security Wake-Up Call for Web3

In the ever-evolving realm of blockchain technology, the rise of Layer 2 (L2) solutions has captivated the Web3 community. With promises of enhanced scalability, reduced transaction costs, and improved user experiences, L2 blockchains have become the focal point of development and investment. However, this intense focus on L2s may be inadvertently steering us into uncharted waters fraught with security risks and performance pitfalls. In this article, we delve into how this hyperfocus on L2 solutions could undermine Web3 security, exacerbate smart contract risks, and ultimately hinder the adoption of decentralized technologies.


There's an adage in the Netherlands: “Meten is weten,” or “measuring is knowing.” This principle underscores the value of direct observation and assessment in understanding and addressing challenges. In the context of Web3, it doesn’t take much scrutiny of Crypto Twitter to recognize that we are deep in the L2 hype cycle. The prevailing sentiment is that L2 blockchains offer superior user friendliness, safety, and scalability, warranting a concentrated focus on their development.

But this collective enthusiasm may be misplaced if our goal is to foster broad Web3 adoption.

The Illusion of Safety and Scalability in L2s

Layer 2 solutions are designed to alleviate the congestion and high costs associated with Layer 1 (L1) blockchains like Ethereum. By processing transactions off-chain and then batching them for submission to the L1, L2s aim to improve scalability and reduce fees. Technologies such as Optimistic Rollups and zk-Rollups have been heralded as game-changers in this space.

However, a closer examination reveals that our hyperfocus on L2s could be introducing new vulnerabilities and operational bottlenecks that threaten the broader Web3 ecosystem. Here’s why this laser-like focus on L2s might be counterproductive:

1. Inattentional Blindness to Security Risks

Inattentional blindness refers to the psychological phenomenon where we fail to notice significant stimuli because our attention is focused elsewhere. This is precisely what's happening with L2 solutions. Our collective preoccupation with their potential benefits has caused us to overlook serious security issues—chief among them, the centralization of sequencers.

Centralized Sequencers: The Hidden VulnerabilitySequencers in L2 blockchains are responsible for batching and ordering transactions before submitting them to the L1. Ideally, these sequencers should be robust and decentralized. However, many current L2 solutions employ centralized sequencers controlled by the development teams, creating a single point of failure.

Such centralization poses several risks:

  • Operational Risk: If a sequencer fails or is maliciously controlled, it can disrupt the entire L2 network.
  • Regulatory Risk: Centralized control can attract regulatory scrutiny, particularly if it leads to transaction halts or exploits, as seen recently with Ethereum's L2 solution, Linea, which paused its sequencer to address a security breach​​.

This focus on centralized L2 solutions can inadvertently create a fragile system, vulnerable to both technical failures and regulatory actions. It’s a stark reminder that decentralization is not just a technical goal but a security imperative in Web3.

2. Overestimation of L2 Transaction Capacity

While L2 solutions are seen as the answer to the scalability woes of L1 blockchains, they are not a panacea. The assumption that L2s alone can handle the transaction load of a global-scale decentralized network is overly optimistic.

The Scalability ChallengeL1 blockchains struggle to process transactions at the scale required for billions of users. L2s can alleviate some of this pressure, but they cannot fully solve the scalability issue. Even in a future dominated by superchains, the combined transaction capacity of L2s remains limited by the underlying L1 infrastructure.

This limitation highlights the need for a balanced approach that includes significant investments in L1 scalability. Without this, the promise of a scalable Web3 remains unfulfilled, and the focus on L2s could lead to disappointing performance outcomes.

3. The Risk of a Monolithic Future

An unintended consequence of our L2-centric development is the potential for creating a monolithic future, where the ecosystem becomes overly reliant on a single L1 blockchain. This scenario poses several threats:

  • Security Risks: Centralizing all activity on one L1 increases the system’s susceptibility to systemic failures and exploits.
  • Performance Issues: As more L2s pile onto a single L1, any performance degradation at the base layer cascades through the entire network.
  • Equity Concerns: A monolithic blockchain future undermines the principles of decentralization and equity that underpin the Web3 movement.

The more we emphasize L2s without corresponding developments in L1s, the more we risk centralizing ourselves around a single chain, creating a digital economy that is neither fair nor resilient.

Case Studies: Lessons from the Field

1. Linea's Sequencer Pause

Recently, Ethereum L2 Linea had to pause its sequencer to prevent an exploit, demonstrating the inherent risks of centralized control within L2 solutions. This incident not only halted transactions but also drew significant regulatory attention, underscoring the fragility of centralized sequencer designs in Web3 security​​.

Read more about the incident: Ethereum L2 Linea Pauses Sequencer

2. Solana’s Impact Through L1 Innovation

Solana’s approach to blockchain scalability, focusing on a high-performance L1 solution, has led to remarkable growth and innovation within the ecosystem. Solana’s example highlights the importance of not neglecting L1 development in our pursuit of scalable and efficient blockchain solutions​​.

Learn more about Solana's innovations: Solana’s Impact on Web3 Ecosystem

The Path Forward: Balancing L1 and L2 Development

To secure the future of Web3 and enhance blockchain security, we need a more balanced approach. Here’s what the Web3 community can do:

1. Diversify Focus

Instead of pouring all our resources into L2 developments, we should allocate efforts towards improving L1 scalability and security. This balanced approach will create a more robust and versatile blockchain ecosystem capable of handling global-scale transactions.

2. Address Centralization

Develop decentralized alternatives to centralized sequencers in L2 solutions. This will mitigate single points of failure and enhance the resilience of the entire network.

3. Prepare for Regulatory Oversight

As blockchain technology continues to evolve, regulatory scrutiny is inevitable. The Web3 community must be proactive in addressing potential regulatory concerns related to centralization and operational disruptions.


The journey towards broad Web3 adoption is complex and requires a nuanced understanding of both L1 and L2 technologies. While L2 solutions offer promising scalability enhancements, our hyperfocus on them could blind us to critical security risks and performance challenges. To build a resilient and equitable Web3 future, we must broaden our focus and invest in both L1 and L2 developments.


  1. Diversify Focus: Balance efforts between L1 and L2 developments to ensure a robust and innovative ecosystem.
  2. Address Centralization: Develop and implement decentralized sequencers to reduce single points of failure.
  3. Prepare for Oversight: Anticipate and address regulatory concerns to mitigate potential disruptions and ensure user protection.

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