Proof-of-Ownership via Sign Message With The Lisk Hub Wallet
The latest update to Lisk’s core wallet Lisk Hub Version 0.8.0 resurrected an interesting feature called Sign Message. Lisk Hub sets the bar for a wallet that is world-class in design and user friendliness.
However, one negative side effect from Lisk Hub’s design choices was the loss of previously supported features in the old wallet, Lisk Nano. Features that were present in Lisk Nano, but removed from Lisk Hub included Sign, Encrypt, Decrypt, and Verify Message. In response to community demand, Lisk Hub has brought back the Sign Message feature.
If you open up the Lisk Hub desktop app, you won’t have the ability to directly access the new feature in the GUI. Why is this feature hidden in Hub Version 0.8.0? Lisk explained, they wanted to keep a clean UI and not confuse novice users who have no idea what the purpose is. You can read their official announcement about the release of Lisk Hub Version 0.8.0 here.
So how do you use Sign Message if you can’t access it from Lisk Hub’s GUI?
For now the only way to access Sign Message is through a specially formatted URI, which looks like this: lisk://sign-message?message=my%message. You will need to make sure Lisk Hub is already running for the link to work. Typically, a third party will present this special link to you for you to click on. When you do, Lisk Hub will open to the hidden Sign Message page. The message the third party wants you to sign will be pre-filled for you.
You can also enter the specially formatted URI directly into your browser’s Address Bar. (Note: Since Lisk does not have an official mobile wallet, you cannot currently sign a message with your mobile device. Also, Chrome will launch Lisk Hub when you click on a Sign Message link, but will not open Lisk Hub if you enter the URI directly into the Address Bar.)
What can you actually do with Lisk’s Sign Message?
One use case is proof-of-ownership of an address. When you own an address you hold the secret keys to make transactions on that account. Imagine a situation where Richard paid for a product in Lisk from Gilfoyle. Gilfoyle wants to ensure Richard is actually the owner of the address that paid for the product. Richard could sign a message which requires him to enter a message and digitally sign it with his secret key, in this case, it’s his secret 12 word passphrase for the Lisk account that paid for the product. Richard would copy and paste the output of the Sign Message to Gilfoyle which is: the message, public key, and signature. With this, Gilfoyle can verify that Richard holds the private keys to the account that paid for the product.
At Ascend we are using the Sign Message feature as a proof-of-ownership in the real-world today. We ask that Lisk voters make a pledge (non-binding agreement) to vote for our team of delegates on a future date if we gain enough support to become forging Delegates. This solves multiple problems within the current Lisk voting system.
By pledging votes with Sign Message instead of actually changing them,
voters avoid losing current and future payouts from the top 101 and the high fees to change votes. Ascend, can use the signed message to verify that a voter owns the Lisk address pledged and will vote for us when enough voting weight has been collected.
Once it has, voters can all swap some votes to Ascend at the same time. Signing a message is free, safe, and secure. A signed message does not contain a voter’s actual secret key and the secret key cannot be calculated from a signed message.
Some other possible use cases that the Ascend team has considered might include:
- Proof-of-identity for tokens
- Intellectual property protection using your digital signature to show you created the content
- A spam filter only letting content through that has a signed authorization message from you
- Non-profit organizations can sign an account to prove you are donating to them and not a false account
- Two-Factor-Authentication where your account requires a Signed Message from a Trezor or Ledger hardware wallet.
Overall it is exciting to see Lisk continue to progress and add new functionality to all of the Lisk products. What other ideas or use-cases do you have for Sign Message? Please share what you think in the comments!