Chainlink has acquired DECO from Cornell University. DECO is an improvement on how to utilize HTTPS/TLS for data transmission across the Internet. It was developed by Dr. Ari Juels, the former Chief Scientist of RSA. He previously formalised Proof of Work, now used to secure an estimated $300B+ in cryptocurrency stored across Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.
Dr. Juels is joining Chainlink Labs as its new Chief Scientist. He will direct its research program and continue to oversee the implementation of DECO as well as various additional Web 3.0 technologies.
“DECO’s ability to provide previously unavailable data security when transferring data over the internet, will greatly increase the private and premium data that becomes available for use by all Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 applications,” said Sergey Nazarov, Co-founder of Chainlink. “We have long collaborated with Ari Juels. Knowing that he is directing Chainlink Lab’s research and future architecture, puts Chainlink in a position to succeed as the global standard for both validated data and secure data transmission.”
Deco and extending HTTPS/TLS
An oracle is a service which provides data to smart contracts or other systems. Oracles obtain their data from trusted websites. But even those that relay data correctly cannot safely access users’ web-session data. That’s because they cannot enforce privacy.
DECO is a privacy-preserving oracle protocol. Using cryptographic techniques, users can prove facts about their web (TLS) sessions to oracles while hiding privacy-sensitive data.
With DECO a user can prove to an oracle that a person:
- is over 18 – without needing to revealing an account password or birth date
- has won a bet against another user in a smart contract – without revealing what the bet was
- walked (say) 5K each day for a month (data obtained from a fitness tracker website) – without revealing any other health or personal data.
By extending the data security capabilities of HTTPS and TLS, the most widely formats for transmitting all Internet data, DECO can guarantee data remains private and untampered with during its delivery from various private and premium data sources. It does this:
- using cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs
- from any server using HTTPS/TLS
- without revealing that data to the outside world (or even to the final computation using the data).
In effect, DECO:
- creates a new method of providing private and premium data across the Internet
- maintains confidentiality and security at (according to Chainlink) previously unachievable levels.
“I’m delighted to intensify my involvement with the Chainlink team in my new role as Chief Scientist of Chainlink Labs. With its strong focus on cutting-edge research for high-trust systems such as blockchains and prominence as a provider of oracle technologies, I think Chainlink is ideally positioned to bring DECO to production,” said Professor Juels.
The additional security
This additional level of data security improves the way data transmits over the internet. It enables various previously inaccessible data to become accessible to both existing web systems and various blockchains/smart contracts. For example, using a DECO enabled Chainlink Node:
- premium data sources that have so far been unable to place the world’s highest quality data onto a blockchain due to its public nature, will now be able to provide that data to various blockchains and the many DeFi protocols/smart contracts that operate on them
- enterprises will be able to prove the state of private data, to both other enterprises and blockchain records, without revealing the data held in internal systems
- consumers will be able to prove personal data – like identity or bank balances – while avoiding applications having full access to their personal accounts.
In effect DECO means users can:
- utilise their data in multiple applications
- retain both their security and privacy from the larger world, and even the applications using the data itself.
Enterprise Times: what does this mean
Chainlink provides highly secure and reliable oracles to large enterprises and leading smart contract development teams (see also Kadena, Celsius Partners and others). It is a decentralised oracle network which:
- helps to resolve connectivity issues with smart contracts
- enables users to build blockchain-based smart contracts that securely access off-chain data feeds, web APIs and traditional bank payments.
In doing this Chainlink plays a role in how smart contracts work. This can apply to multiple sectors – including financial services, insurance and supply chains.
With this acquisition, Chainlink can integrate DECO’s security capabilities. Later it (Chainlink) says it will seek to expand the scope of what Chainlink/DECO validated data is used for, potentially beyond blockchains.