How to Determine a Finding Validity

A finding represents a vulnerability in the codebase, they are separated loosely into 3 categories of severity:

  • High

  • Medium

  • Low.

For more information on evaluating a finding severity, see How to Evaluate a Finding Severity.

How to determine if a finding is valid?

For findings to be considered valid, they need to check all the properties listed below:

  • Submissions must be made during the official duration of the contest.

  • Valid submissions should identify legitimate vulnerabilities within the codebase.

  • Issues that fall under Gas/QA or Informational severity will not be eligible for rewards, even if they are accurate or correct.

  • Submissions should include sufficient details and proof to support the findings. For instance, while ChatGPT and AI can assist in bug finding, relying solely or primarily on AI responses often leads to poor reports. Reports suspected of this approach will likely be deemed invalid.

Contest-Specific Issue Validity Guidelines

There are two criteria to determinee the validity of a finding within the context of a specific contest:

  • The official contest specification on the CodeHawks contest's page

  • The code within scope

After a contest launch, Sponsors have 48 hours to address any ambiguities raised by auditors in Discord or during the contest's Kick-Off Live Stream regarding the Contest-Specific Issue Validity Guidelines. Once this 48-hour window has passed, the official contest specification on CodeHawks will be updated with answers from the Sponsor, becoming the ultimate standard for determining the validity of an issue within the contest.

Sponsors are strictly prohibited from employing the "Moving The Goalposts" logical fallacy to invalidate submissions after this 48-hour period.

Judges and Sponsors may only invalidate a submission if it fails to meet the contest's predefined criteria.

Vague Generalities

Vague generalities are always judged as invalid submissions. Examples include:

  • "This function may have re-entrancy, add re-entrancy guard."

  • "This hash function may have hash collision, do the hashing a different way."

If an auditor identifies a vulnerability in a function, it is their responsibility to demonstrate its impact by creating a proof of concept (PoC) exploit that can cause significant damage to the system or result in permanent grief or denial of service.

However, if another auditor submits an actual exploit with a PoC that proves the vague generality to be true, only that auditor will be rewarded. For detailed instructions on what to include and how to submit a finding, please refer to How to Write and Submit a Finding.

To determine the validity of a finding, we provide a number of issue categories as a guideline. Please note that final determinations will always be at the discretion of the Judge.

Findings that may be invalid

The following is a high level list of issues which are usually not considered valid Note: this table is meant as a rough guide only and does not represent concrete policy. Each issue's validity may vary pending condition and circumstance. Final determinations are at the judge/protocol's discretion.


Gas optimizations

Users/protocols may pay extra gas due to this issue.

Zero address checks

Ensure input values are not zero addresses.

Admin Input/call validation

Issues related to incorrect input by admins, call order mistakes, and assumptions breaking due to admin actions.

Front-running initializers

If there's no irreversible damage or fund loss & the protocol can redeploy and initialize again.

User experience and design improvement

Minor inconveniences or design opinions with no clear loss of funds indication.

User Blacklist

A user being blacklisted causing harm only to themselves.

EIP compliance with no integrations

If no external integrations exist and no adverse effects arise due to non-compliance with an EIP.

Users sending ETH/native tokens

If contracts allow users to send tokens accidentally.

Loss of rewards

Losing airdrops, liquidity fees, or other rewards not in the protocol design.

Incorrect values in View functions

Considered low by default, unless used in a larger function resulting in fund loss.

Mock contracts issues

Any issues found in mock contracts.


Issues showing definite fund loss with a detailed explanation.

EIP Compliance

Issues regarding EIP compliance with essential external integrations.

Out of Gas

Issues leading to Out of Gas errors due to malicious users or specific call flows.

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