IC3: Advancing the science and applications of blockchains

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by James Austgen, Kushal Babel, Vitalik Buterin, Phil Daian, Ari Juels, and Mahimna Kelkar on January 16, 2023
In a paper we've released today, we introduce a new cryptographic notion that we call proofs of complete knowledge (CK). We also report on a prototype that offers a path to making CK practical for use with smartphones.
by Andrew Miller on December 13, 2022
Last week the rest of the sgx.fail team and I posted a research preprint that included a vulnerability disclosure affecting Secret Network. Secret Network is the first smart contract system based on Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) to go live in production. However, there are several rival projects with closely related tech that have launched public testnets, namely Oasis, Phala, and Obscuro. Our disclosure kicked off a broader discussion, with all these projects reaching out and/or making public statements (Phala’s), (Oasis’s), (Secret’s) explaining to what degree they would have been affected and about the mitigations they have in development. The four projects have been building most independently of each other, but TEE/SGX compromise presents a common threat to all of them, suggesting an opportunity to work together.
by James Austgen, Kushal Babel, Phil Daian, Ari Juels, and Mahimna Kelkar on September 30, 2022
Atomic NFTs introduce new cryptographic techniques in order to enable NFT creators to prevent fractionalization of their NFTs. Our work promises to give creators stronger control over how their NFTs are bought and sold. We stress that Atomic NFTs are a preliminary research concept. More research needs to be done to make them truly practical. We believe, however, that practicality is on the horizon and that Atomic NFTs could someday become a standard option in NFT creation.
by Ari Juels on September 26, 2022
Museums exist not just to house original works of art, but as shrines to be visited by art lovers. Physical works of art — oil paintings, for instance — look very different in person than in posters or digital images. I've spent twenty minutes staring at this Vermeer in person. I can assure you that the sacred hush magically rendered by the artist in the original painting is all but obliterated in reproduction. There’s another facet to appreciation of art, though, one that’s not just about brushstrokes or esthetic nuance. Why, after all, do people flock to see the Mona Lisa when they can barely make it out through the ten-foot thick protective barrier of tourists?
by Florian Suri-Payer and Natacha Crooks on August 27, 2022
Applications want to retain database functionality when decentralizing their systems. Unfortunately, straightforward designs atop today's blockchain system fall short of this task. The current separation between the ordering layer and the application materialization layer in blockchain based designs precludes the design of expressive, and high performance transactional systems. In our recent work Basil - Breaking up BFT with ACID (transactions) we explore how to merge these layers for improved scalability and usability.
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Events

August 28-30, 2023
This conference focuses on technical innovations in the blockchain ecosystem, and brings together researchers and practioners working in the space. We are interested in the application of cryptography, decentralized protocols, formal methods, and empirical analysis, to improving the security and scalability of blockchain deployments. We aim to foster collaboration among practitioners and researchers working on blockchain protocol development, cryptography, distributed systems, secure computing, crypto-economics, and economic risk analysis.
January 15-18, 2023
Join us for the 2023 IC3 Winter Retreat which will be hosted in-person at the Eurotel Victoria in Les Diablerets, Switzerland! Our technical committee of Surya Bakshi, Lorenz Breidenbach, Patrick McCorry, and Haaroon Yousaf is preparing another immersive learning experience.
Monday October 3, 2022
Thank you all for joining us for an evening of art and research talks to celebrate the opening of the NFT Art Gallery at Cornell Tech in New York City.
August 29-31, 2022
This conference focuses on technical innovations in the blockchain ecosystem, and brings together researchers and practioners working in the space. We are interested in the application of cryptography, decentralized protocols, formal methods, and empirical analysis, to improving the security and scalability of blockchain deployments. We aim to foster collaboration among practitioners and researchers working on blockchain protocol development, cryptography, distributed systems, secure computing, crypto-economics, and economic risk analysis.
Tuesday August 30, 2022
IC3 will host a dinner at SBC 2022 on Tuesday, August 30th in Palo Alto, CA. The event will run from 5:30-9:30 pm with a cocktail hour followed by a catered dinner and selected talks.
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News

Featured Projects

Complete Knowledge: Preventing Encumbrance of Cryptographic Secrets

Most cryptographic protocols model a player’s knowledge of secrets in a simple way. Informally, the player knows a secret in the sense that she can directly furnish it as a (private) input to a protocol, e.g., to digitally sign a message. The growing availability of Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) and secure multiparty computation, however, undermines this model of knowledge. Such tools can encumber a secret sk and permit a chosen player to access sk conditionally, without actually knowing sk. By permitting selective access to sk by an adversary, encumbrance of secrets can enable vote-selling in cryptographic voting schemes, illegal sale of credentials for online services, and erosion of deniability in anonymous messaging systems. Unfortunately, existing proof-of-knowledge protocols fail to demonstrate that a secret is unencumbered. We therefore introduce and formalize a new notion called complete knowledge (CK). A proof (or argument) of CK shows that a prover does not just know a secret, but also has fully unencumbered knowledge, i.e., unrestricted ability to use the secret. We introduce two practical CK schemes that use special-purpose hardware, specifically TEEs and off-the-shelf mining ASICs. We prove the security of these schemes and explore their practical deployment with a complete, end-to-end prototype that supports both. We show how CK can address encumbrance attacks identified in previous work. Finally, we introduce two new applications enabled by CK that involve proving ownership of blockchain assets. For further details, please check out our Projects Page.

Keywords:
TEEs
Complete Knowledge
Proof-of-Knowledge
Blockchain

More projects:

  • Bingo: Adaptively Secure Packed Asynchronous Verifiable Secret Sharing and Asynchronous Distributed Key Generation
  • Specular: Towards Trust-minimized Blockchain Execution Scalability with EVM-native Fraud Proofs
  • FairPoS: Input Fairness in Proof-of-Stake with Adaptive Security
  • FinTech: Liquidity Fragmentation on Decentralized Exchanges
  • STAMP: Lightweight TEE-Assisted MPC for Efficient Privacy-Preserving Machine Learning
Even more projects...