In this digital age, as we are slowly moving onto 2019, technology is creating new ways for us to interact with each other, improving our everyday life and shaping our reality. Blockchain is a technology that emerged from the need for anonymity, with it’s roots dating back to the cryptographic cypherpunk movement of the ’90s, with Bitcoin aspiring to provide a decentralized alternative to the existing banking system. But a question is arising. Do blockchains of today really provide data protection and security? The short answer is yes, and no. Cryptocurrencies like Monero and Zcash are providing anonymous transactions, but blockchain’s use-cases are extended beyond the field of cryptographic digital money. Decentralized applications (Dapps) are being built on top of blockchains, covering industries from Artificial Intelligence & Advertising to Data Research and Healthcare.
So, this question is arising again: Do blockchains of today really provide data privacy and security for these industries and their users?
A recent study revealed that 87 percent of the population in the United States can be uniquely identified by just their ZIP code, gender and date of birth. The all increasing adoption, use and recent advancements in technology suggest that we need a fundamentally new approach to protect our privacy moving onwards into the 21st century.
Introducing: Oasis Labs
Oasis Labs was founded in 2018 by the Oasis team which is led by the CEO Dawn Song, Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and consists of top talents from UC Berkeley, MIT, Stanford, University of Washington, Cornell, Google and other premier institutions. To this date they have founded three successful startups, focused on security and deep learning. Dawn Song and 2 other members of the team, helped Uber in 2014 to add a privacy safety net which provides user anonymity and more secure data management.
Oasis will empower users and developers to control and protect their data in order to enable the data-driven applications of the future. This will establish a state of self-sovereign data ownership that will allow users to fully dictate how their data is being used. In the future, nodes on the network will receive tokens in exchange for verifying transactions and securing the blockchain once it is live.
Oasis’s blockchain, Ekiden, achieves performance of 600x more throughput and 400x less latency, at 1000x less cost than the Ethereum mainnet. Ekiden features trustworthy smart-contracts that solve the issues of scalability and security.
But how does it work?
To achieve data privacy, Oasis is building in privacy at every layer of the platform. They enable confidentiality-preserving smart contract execution at the compute layer to protect the computational process from leaking sensitive information, and enable privacy-preserving data analytics and machine learning at the application layer, including differential privacy, to protect the computation outputs from leaking sensitive information about the inputs. They are also building a unified framework combining multiple state-of-the-art technologies for secure computing, including secure enclaves and cryptographic techniques such as secure multi-party computation and zero-knowledge proofs.
Scalability: Oasis is built on a new blockchain architecture that allows even computationally complex applications to run at scale, providing lower latency and faster TPS than the Ethereum blockchain. This is achieved by separating the execution, storage and consensus work for the nodes of the blockchain network allowing computations to run in pararrel.
Network Enclave: A Network Enclave is a limited access section of an internal network that is subdivided from the rest of the network. It creates a secure computing environment that provides confidentiality and integrity. Oasis’s support for secure enclaves is an extension of their previous research project Ekiden from UC Berkeley, Cornell and UIUC. Developers can use the Keystone or the Intel SGX hardware for the Oasis open-source enclave.
Funding & Investments
Oasis Labs raised 45$ million in private sale with investments from Accel, a16z crypto, Binance Labs, Pantera Capital & Polychain Capital.
Oasis Devnet Launch
On November 15, Oasis Labs announced that the latest version of the platform, the Oasis Devnet is available for access. It enables developers to build and test privacy-preserving smart contracts.
Developers can use the libraries to build confidential & encrypted smart contracts using the Rust language. They can use the contract kit to test their code locally before it’s deployed on-chain and they can also migrate Ethereum smart contracts to the Oasis platform by applying some minor changes.
Oasis Startup Hub
Oasis recently launched the Oasis Startup Hub, a program offering innovative startups early access to the platform so they can build their applications, combined with technical guidance by working directly with the Oasis Labs engineers. In addition, they will be provided with strategic insights from top VC investors and legal & regulatory advisory services from Atrium, a law firm with deep blockchain expertise.
Real world Applications
Developers can use the Oasis platform to build real-world, privacy-preserving applications at scale by using smart contracts. Some of the possible applications are:
By now, it has become clear that Oasis Labs will fill an important gap in the Blockchain space by offering professional, secure and scalable privacy-preserving smart contracts. The future looks promising for the company. Stay tuned for more announcements & updates from this project.
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