During Cyber Week 2017, I spoke with industry experts where I shared Intel’s approach to cybersecurity and how to protect emerging industry opportunities like autonomous vehicles and blockchain. Intel’s approach to security starts with hardware protection and builds upwards, hardening each layer of the compute stack. Just last month, Intel announced Intel® Xeon Scalable processors, which include a suite of platform security technologies built into Intel® silicon.
Today, Microsoft announced the Coco Framework with Intel as a key hardware and development partner. This collaboration is intended to address enterprise requirements for blockchain implementations, including security and privacy.
The Coco Framework Enables Enterprise Blockchain
Traditional blockchains like Bitcoin are public networks that anyone can join. While such networks may be appropriate for trading cryptocurrency, their limited transaction throughput, compute inefficiencies, and public transaction data, often inhibit corporations who are seeking to deploy blockchain applications.
Microsoft’s Coco Framework uses Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel SGX) to better satisfy enterprise blockchain requirements of throughput, efficiency, and privacy. As a hardware-based security technology, Intel SGX is uniquely positioned to improve blockchain solutions by delivering a trusted execution environment. Coco utilizes SGX’s trusted execution to accelerate transaction throughput and encrypt transaction data, thereby delivering a blockchain framework that is tailored to the needs of an enterprise.
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Coco and Intel SGX Improve Blockchain Privacy
Intel SGX supports blockchain privacy requirements by allowing transaction data to be stored in encrypted form. Traditional blockchains store transaction data in the clear, allowing any network participant to view historical data. Coco stores blockchain data in encrypted form. When data is requested and the proper identity validated, the data is decrypted for transaction execution within a private enclave.
Coco and Intel SGX address the Scalability Challenge
The Coco Framework uses Intel SGX to improve the scalability of enterprise blockchain deployments. Traditional blockchain solutions have limited transaction scalability because of the overhead needed to achieve network consensus (consensus is the agreement amongst a group of participants on a ledger). Coco includes a consensus mechanism that utilizes Intel SGX to protect the process from malware, unauthorized applications, unauthorized users or other attacks. By replacing high compute requirements with secure enclaves, Coco accelerates transaction throughput by reducing overhead. We applaud Microsoft for this innovation in consensus efficiency and leveraging Intel SGX to address enterprise blockchain needs.
Open Source Collaboration
Microsoft and Intel intend to extend this collaboration beyond the initial Coco implementation and ultimately offer our collaborative blockchain work to an open source project in the future. Both companies are founding members of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. Intel is a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger consortium and is the maintainer for the Hyperledger Sawtooth project.
We believe that our partnership with Microsoft will help accelerate the promise of blockchains and bring a tried-and-true model of ecosystem innovation to businesses worldwide. I am excited about today’s announcement and our collaboration with Microsoft’s Mark Russinovich and the Azure team.
I encourage you to read my blog series. In my next post, I will build on the concept of efficient consensus (with Microsoft Coco as a trailblazing implementation) for financial services and cryptocurrencies (please, let’s stop building “power plants” to achieve consensus!).
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