Enigma (ENG) -You will agree with me that Blockchain technology is truly revolutionary. In order to build truly decentralized applications that can achieve global adoption, there is need for protocols that can solve the issue of privacy and scalability.
These are two major challenges confronting blockchains. Storing sensitive data on blockchain is not feasible since data on blockchains can be accessed by anyone. This has resulted in a restriction on the number of applications for blockchains.
On the issue of scalability, computing on blockchain is quite slow and costly. Therefore it is not practicable storing and computing very large amounts of data on the blockchain. This is where enigma comes in. Enigma’s innovative technology protects the privacy of data and still allows computation to be run over that data.
Enigma (ENG) History And Development
The Enigma project was founded by Guy Zyskind and Can Kisagun (former MIT grad students). Guy had a technical background with a focus on blockchain whereas Can’s background is in the intersection of business and technology.
Enigma was first described in Guy Zyskind’s (Co-founder and CEO of Enigma) MIT thesis in 2015. With enigma, ‘smart contracts’ becomes ‘secret contracts’ where input data is concealed from nodes in the enigma network that execute nodes.
This feature is necessary for safeguarding sensitive data and creating truly decentralized solutions at scale. If this ability is not added to protect data, the utility of blockchains are limited. Enigma’s technology is the missing bit to a decentralized future. Enigma’s protocol will have powerful applications across industries. Examples include personal data, identity, healthcare, finance, credit and many others.
For many blockchains whose underlying architecture is a public ledger of transactions, privacy is a challenging task.
Whereas Enigma, a project incubated at MIT Lab aims to surmount this challenge by developing privacy-enabled smart contracts it terms ‘secret contracts. Enigma raised $45million in its initial coin offering (ICO) last year.
The main aim of Enigma is to transform the way in which data is being transmitted via their network. Many a cryptocurrency offers a safe and decentralized protocol.
A decentralized protocol refers to a data stream that is not controlled by anyone or group. Enigma does not run on a decentralized protocol.
Rather they operate on an off-chain data network. By reason of this off-chain data network they are able to store larger amounts of volume of information. This large volume of information is securely transmitted in comparison to decentralization.
Enigma (ENG): Blockchains And Privacy Need
Blockchains’ relationship with privacy has always been complex. In recent times, smart contract platforms like Ethereum have struggled to resolve the public nature of on-chain data with users’ demand for privacy; most especially when it has to do with sensitive use cases.
The upsurge of digital assets in the fourth quarter of 2017 has brought to the vanguard the importance of privacy into comprehensive discussion.
This is because a lot of people saw the growth of the virtual assets as a major benefit that Bitcoin had to provide right from the coming on of cryptocurrency.
Due to the ever increasing gap between risk takers and investors, it has been revealed that a strictly private blockchain solution is easier said than done. On the one hand, you have many crypto enthusiasts that are demanding for wholly secretive and anonymous dealings.
While on the other hand, people are requesting for completely reserved smart contract solutions.
Based on the incredible changes in the media today, it has become expedient to understand why a lot of people today want to protect themselves from public scrutiny. With the crypto wave weeping across the world, quite a number of projects have taken the initiative to come up with answers. Enigma is one such project.
Enigma (ENG) Features And Specifications
At this stage (2018), Enigma is an off-chain data network.
The data, its storage and transmission is off-chain. As such the blockchain serves as the controller of the network while the off-chain handles all else. In fact the off-chain component handles everything from routing requests, validating permissions, parsing and dispatching queries to a database or CSV file to finally routing the result back in the P2P network to requesting clients. (N.B it is encrypted with the clients’ private key)
Storage: Principally, Enigma is the off-chain storage solution for smart contracts and data sets using a Distributed Hash Table (DHT) in place of a blockchain.
Scalability: the structure of the Enigma data sets allow for Secure Multi-Party Computation (sMPC). Distinct from a blockchain where computation is decentralized and run on every node, Enigma’s structure allows only a small set of the nodes to make computations. Enigma asserts to have an improvement on the MPC structure that permits for even more efficiency.
Privacy: the data and some codes are kept private on Enigma protocol layer. However, auditing and verification is done on a blockchain protocol layer like Ethereum. More so, all the data and code being verified are encrypted such that nodes on Ethereum will not see the original data but can audit the accuracy of the data and smart contract.
Combating The Challenge Of Smart Contract Confidentiality
The issue of confidentiality has been around for several years. As such it is not surprising that firms are looking forward to finding solutions to this perplexity.
The Enigma protocol makes sure that users’ data stays fully encrypted from the network parties that are executing these secret contracts while remaining tamper proof like a normal smart contract.
Enigma has revealed that they have entered into partnership with eight different blockchain projects. These firms are Colendi, ReBloc, Datacoup, Ocean Protocol, Datawallet, 2key, Portal network and Eximchain.
Each of the eight launch partners is working on a building block for using private computation in smart contracts. Some of the categories being explored include private voting, secret computation, sybil protection and data validation. Each of these building blocks fits into a much larger central effort in the decentralized web like governance, identity, usability and scalability. Enigma is committed to collaborative efforts across the cryptospace.
The truly remarkable thing about Enigma’s protocol is that it works on top of existing blockchains. Sure enough, a number of the launch partners – Colendi, Datawallet, Ocean Protocol, ReBloc and Datacoup- are built / or are building on Ethereum.
On A Final Note
If the adoption of true blockchain is your focus, you have to have privacy and scalability. You really won’t want to build applications where sensitive information is open to all and sundry on the blockchain. In this regard you might want to consider Enigma.
Although the security of this network needs to be monitored as cryptography does not equal security. Most especially if the protocol is not an open blockchain like Bitcoin. Since the team has already bungled its ICO, it is fair to question if they have a full grasp of cybersecurity which is essential to execute successfully an inter-network protocol like Enigma.
In all, Enigma is an ambitious project with perhaps a qualified team with regards to cryptography and technical engineering. The ceiling for enigma’s potential is as far as blockchain will stretch.
This is because the need for Enigma in the marketplace will become more obvious as wider adoption of blockchain technology occurs and the request for privacy and scaling increase.