Enigma Protocol: The First Solution to Privacy on Blockchain
Vitalik Buterin recently called this moment in crypto history “the tail end of a bubble.” He was referring to the wave of speculation about the technology behind cryptocurrencies that saw an unprecedented rise and fall in value. It was a wave of speculation that fueled startups and scams. ICOs, bitcoin futures, and fortunes were born overnight. Now the excitement has faded. The value in speculation, baseless by definition, has eroded. We are back at the bottom.
And yet at the bottom we have the startups born from that wave of speculation working on the technology that will fuel the next wave: realization. Enigma, first conceived at MIT, emerged from the cataclysmic rise and fall of cryptocurrency with a vision to change the world.
Enigma is a decentralized supercomputer built on blockchain that runs private computations on a network incentivized by the ENG token. Formulated from Guy Zyskind’s research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Enigma is the first implementation of Multi-Party Computation on blockchain.
While the technology itself is hard to explain, the possibilities that Enigma enables are paradigm shifting. A simplified version of what can be accomplished by Enigma is the sharing of secrets without revealing any information to outsiders or the individuals involved. The typical example is Alice and Bob, trying to figure out who has more money in their bank account without revealing the actual number. It sounds like a simplistic task, but the implications of technologically achieving it are enormous.
The problems that blockchain promises to solve in supply chain, finance, healthcare, and government are impossible without the ability to protect the privacy of crucial information. Almost all modern institutions deal with private information. It comes in the form of bank accounts, social security numbers, intellectual property, and more. Without blockchain being able to use this information while keeping its privacy intact, blockchain is useless. Alongside scalability, information privacy is the major limitation behind blockchain’s adoption. Enigma is the first to overcome this limitation.
Enigma is not just a privacy enabling protocol but also a value unlocking mechanism for blockchain. While Ethereum has enabled smart contracts, the value of that capability is still locked behind the inability of those contracts to preserve privacy and secrets. The Enigma Protocol directly addresses this problem through secret contracts.
Secret contracts are smart contracts that keep all of the data contained in them safe and encrypted. They work by encrypting smart contract data and sending it to the Enigma network, where computations are performed on the encrypted data. Nodes in the network are incentivized not to cheat by holding a stake of ENG tokens and being rewarded in ENG fees for correct computations. If the nodes cheat, by sending back garbage or false information, then they are penalized by sacrificing their stake of ENG.
If you think of Enigma as a means of transferring private data across the blockchain then it is a secret sharing protocol. If you think of Enigma as the principle network that will run all smart contracts that deal with sensitive information then it is a blockchain privacy infrastructure. If you think of Enigma as a global network of incentivized nodes securely performing the computations on the back end of financial institutions, healthcare systems and global supply chains then it is the decentralized super computer running Web 4.0.
Enigma is for builders, believers, and futurists. If you are a builder with the skills to program smart contracts then you can join the Enigma forums at Enigma.co and take part in their testnet. If you are a believer then you can join the network that runs the prototype version of secret contracts by hosting an SGX node. If you are a futurist who can do both then join the Enigma community via reddit, telegram, or discord and get involved.
For more information on the Enigma Project, visit their:
Developer forum: https://forum.enigma.co