Trustroot: Building Trust in Cryptocurrency

Blockchains’ revolutionary potential comes from the decentralization of trust: trust between miners who validate transactions, developers who update the underlying code, and users who ultimately exchange assets on the blockchain. Eliminating the need for a trusted third party to supervise transactions (like a bank or other financial institution) has produced some extraordinary applications, from managing industrial supply chains to distributing humanitarian aid — but these open, “trustless” networks are still in their infancy, and we face enormous challenges in providing safety to the participants of these networks.

The anonymous and decentralized properties of blockchains that make them useful for storing and transmitting information have also made them especially vulnerable to exploitation by social engineering. Every week, a new hustle emerges to cheat innocent users: impersonating Twitter accounts of pop culture figures, hijacking email lists and Telegram threads, or hacking websites and modifying wallet addresses during an ICO. According to Ernst & Young, over 10 percent of $3.7 billion raised in ICOs has been stolen — that’s nearly $400 million stolen from ICOs alone!

As more and more technologies are built on blockchains, it’s clear that new tools are necessary to increase trust between parties transacting on these networks. Trustroot is an open protocol for security and reputation management on the blockchain. Trustroot allows you to verify the reputation and trustworthiness of the cryptocurrency wallet address that you are transacting with, to avoid phishing attacks and other social engineering scams.

It works in two parts. The first part is identity verification, analogous to what SSL certificates achieve for web browsers (a certificate that assures you that your connection is encrypted and your traffic won’t be intercepted and read by a third-party). Similar to the ‘padlock’ icon for HTTPS in web browsers, Trustroot will provide you a clear sign that you are transacting with the entity named in the certificate. You can confirm the identity of the entity using the Trustroot browser extension and our upcoming mobile app.

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However, the identity verification alone does not ensure that the person you are transacting with is trustworthy — it only tells you that they are who they claim to be, i.e. that their wallet address represents the entity named in the certificate. It is just as important to know that the entity itself is honest and trustworthy in its transactions. The second part of the Trustroot protocol (still under development) is reputation feedback — after a transaction, you can issue feedback on a business, modifying the entity’s reputation on the blockchain. This allows the community to weed out bad actors and provides a place for users to learn from others’ experiences before transacting with an entity. We believe that these tools will help provide a safer community for people transacting on blockchains.

When you transact with a company verified by Trustroot, you can be sure that they are thoroughly vetted. Each company undergoes an extensive background check, which confirms its legal registration, wallet ownership, and more. Although we are creating the first trusted authority to evaluate businesses and issue certificates, we are building a fully decentralized system in which the community can build their own certificate authorities using our protocol, to eventually decentralize the verification process. An entity can only receive a certificate once this network of certificate authorities algorithmically reach a level of certainty about the entity’s authenticity.

Our core mission is to build the security infrastructure and systemic trust expected by individuals transacting on the blockchain. We are developing tools that protect organizations and individuals against phishing attacks, malware, and other security threats — integrated into wallets, exchanges, chain explorers, browsers and other tools that you use every day. Stay on top of our progress and learn more at