Secure Multi-Party Computation: applications within blockchain technology

What is multi-party computation?

The concept of multi-party computation goes back to the ’80s when Andrew Yao formulated the “Millionaire’s Problem” [2].

Multi-party computation and blockchain

Blockchain makes extensive use of public-key cryptography, or the use of pairs of public and private keys in a cryptographic system.

  • Any physical upgrade to HSMs is expensive and long to implement and release to the market. This is mostly due to their hardware nature
  • If major vulnerabilities are discovered, the consequences can be detrimental
  • Software updates and new wallets installation need to be done manually, which can be complicated and can increase exposure to attacks
  • Access and transfer of assets is slow
  • Storing the recovery password to access the assets if the HSM is lost or stolen represents another security risk
  • The pin to access the HSM can be manually stolen / subject to attacks
  • Multi-signatures wallets are wallets with multiple private keys requiring a quorum of multiple parties to sign transactions. They provide better security as attackers need to break into multiple places simultaneously. However, this often requires custom coding for specific HSMs which results in additional risks. In addition, it’s operationally complex to manage the transition from a person owning one of the signatories to another person

Different examples of multi-party computation applications within blockchain

Using MPC for digitally signing transactions within blockchain is just one of multiple use cases of this technology. Many of the aforementioned companies are experimenting with new ways to combine MPC and blockchain.

Conclusion

In this post, the concept of Multi-Party Computation has been described alongside its applications within blockchain technology.

References

[1] Cisco, “Cisco Global Cloud Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016–2021 White Paper,” 2018. [Online].

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