Blockchain technology is revolutionizing digital transactions in the Cyberspace.
The impact of this technology is clearly demonstrated by the tremendous interest towards cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin) and smart contracts.
After Satoshi Nakamoto proved that blockchains are useful to create cryptocurrencies, more applications of Blockchain technology and of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) have been proposed. Nowadays, there exist already more than 1000 cryptocurrencies, decentralized platforms for the execution of smart contracts (e.g., Ethereum) and new crowdfunding systems (e.g., ICO).
The common feature among such various applications of Blockchain technology is that trusted third parties do not need to be involved in the computations.
In case of peer-to-peer networks, the trusted parties are replaced by assumptions on the computing power of the participants (e.g., this is what happens in Bitcoin). In other cases where instead parties know each other, the trusted party is replaced by a secure multi-party computation that relies on the assumption that the majority of the involved parties are honest.
The quick deployment of such a technology generates various concerns in scientific communities (e.g., cryptography, distributed computing, game theory) and there are several interesting open questions to be solved towards a safe and pervasive use of such technology.
At some point all our data and our actions could be recorded in a blockchain, violating therefore the natural privacy requirements of the citizens.
Is it possible to get the best of the two worlds by designing a privacy-preserving blockchain?
According to recent estimations, the Bitcoin network consumes more electric power than several small countries.
This waste of resources is due to the critical use of the computational power of the parties in the system for the correct generation and use of this cryptocurrency.
With the purpose of reducing such waste of resources, the use of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin could be limited or even forbidden in some countries.
Is it possible to generate a cryptocurrency with similar features but without wasting electric power?
In light of the above open questions, the scientific research on the security of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger technologies and their applications lead by prof. Ivan Visconti (DIEM), focuses on the use of advanced cryptographic tools to guarantee at the same time data integrity and privacy. This is of interest both for computer science and computer engineering.
After proposing in the past several identification schemes through data structures that have strong similarities with blockchains, the research group on Blockchain and Distributed Ledger technologies is now considering two main directions.
The former has the goal to design and develop more secure and functional blockchains. The latter has the goal of leveraging on features of blockchains to design identification schemes, e-voting systems, cryptocurrencies, financial tools and digital e-health solutions that guarantee data integrity and privacy.
The security of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger technologies and their applications is part of the research on Cybersecurity illustrated by prof. Ivan Visconti in some of his classes at university of Salerno. This research is funded in part by the H2020 project PRIViLEDGE (Privacy-Enhancing Cryptography in Distributed Ledgers). prof. Ivan Visconti is the scientific coordinator of this project for university of Salerno.
Responsabile Scientifico del progetto H2020
Privacy-Enhancing Cryptography in Distributed Ledgers
(University of Luxembourg)
(North Carolina State University)
(University of Rome "La Sapienza")