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Using the Emergency Stop Pattern in Solidity

Smart contracts are the backbone of decentralized applications (dApps). They automate agreements and transactions on the blockchain, offering a tamper-proof and transparent environment. However, due to their immutable nature, bugs in a deployed smart contract can be disastrous. This is where the Emergency Stop Pattern comes in as a safety measure.

What is the Emergency Stop Pattern?

The Emergency Stop Pattern allows you to pause critical functionalities within a Solidity contract in case of emergencies. Think of it as a giant kill switch for your smart contract. By enabling this pattern, you can halt operations when unforeseen issues arise, preventing further damage caused by potential bugs or exploits.

Why Use the Emergency Stop Pattern?

Here’s why incorporating this pattern into your Solidity contracts is beneficial:

  • Mitigate Risks: Smart contracts are complex pieces of code. Even with thorough testing, unforeseen bugs can slip through. The Emergency Stop Pattern provides a backdoor to stop the contract’s execution, minimizing potential losses.
  • Time for Repair: Pausing the contract buys you valuable time to diagnose the problem, implement a fix, and potentially deploy an upgraded version.
  • Maintain User Trust: The ability to react quickly to issues demonstrates a commitment to user safety and fosters trust in your dApp.


The Emergency Stop Pattern is relatively straightforward. Here’s a basic outline:

  1. Boolean Flag: A boolean variable (stopped) is introduced to track the contract’s state (active or paused).
  2. onlyOwner Modifier: Functions that can modify the stopped variable are restricted using an onlyOwner modifier, ensuring only the contract owner (usually the deployer) has this authority.
  3. stop() and resume() Functions: These functions allow the owner to pause (stop()) and resume (resume()) contract operations by modifying the stopped variable.
  4. Function Checks: Critical functions within the contract are wrapped in a check that verifies the stopped variable’s state. If true (paused), the function execution reverts, preventing modifications.

Trade-offs and Considerations:

While the Emergency Stop Pattern offers significant benefits, there are trade-offs to consider:

  • Centralization: Granting control to a single entity (owner) goes against the spirit of decentralization. However, the security benefit often outweighs this concern.
  • Potential Abuse: A malicious owner could misuse the pause functionality to manipulate the contract. Careful consideration should be given to who possesses the owner privileges.

Here’s a Solidity code example showcasing the Emergency Stop Pattern

pragma solidity ^0.8.0;

contract MyContract {
  // Flag to track the stopped state
  bool public stopped = false;

  // Modifier to restrict functions only for the owner
  modifier onlyOwner() {
    require(msg.sender == owner, "Only owner can call this function");

  // Address of the contract owner (usually set during deployment)
  address public owner;

  // Constructor to set the owner during deployment
  constructor(address _owner) {
    owner = _owner;

  // Function to pause the contract
  function stop() public onlyOwner {
    stopped = true;

  // Function to resume the contract
  function resume() public onlyOwner {
    stopped = false;

  // Example function that can be paused
  function criticalFunction(uint amount) public {
    require(!stopped, "Contract is currently stopped");
    // Your critical logic here
    // ...


  1. stopped variable: A public boolean variable stopped keeps track of the contract’s state.
  2. onlyOwner modifier: This restricts functions modifying the stopped variable and critical functions to the contract’s owner.
  3. owner address: Stores the address of the contract owner.
  4. stop() and resume() functions: These allow the owner to control the contract’s state.
  5. criticalFunction(uint amount): This is an example function that requires the contract to be active (!stopped) before proceeding with its logic.

Remember: This is a basic example. You can customize it further based on your specific needs.


The Emergency Stop Pattern is a valuable tool for Solidity developers. It empowers you to react swiftly to unforeseen circumstances, safeguarding your smart contract and its users. Remember, this pattern should be used judiciously and only for critical functionalities. By understanding the trade-offs and implementing it responsibly, you can enhance the security and resilience of your dApps.

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