Cryptosat, a startup creating satellites that beam cryptographic building blocks down to Earth, has raised $3 million from seed investors. The company aims to harden cryptographic applications by providing tamper-resistant trusted execution environments in space.
Trusted setups are vital to many areas of cryptography. A guaranteed absence of physical security vulnerabilities would improve the integrity of sensitive computations, which could benefit much of today’s blockchain industry and beyond.
Protocol Labs backs Cryptosat in $3 million raise
Cryptosat aims to launch multiple low-orbit satellites that will beam down building blocks for cryptographic systems — like securely generated random numbers — to applications back on Earth. This completely eradicates the physical attack vector, at least until technology improves to the point that some entity can scoop satellites out of space.
Cryptosat’s $3 million seed raise comes from some of the industry’s heavyweights. Joining open-source research and development specialists Protocol Labs are Inflection, GoAhead Ventures, DoraHacks and the founders of Phala Network.
With help from SpaceX, Cryptosat launched its first satellite, Crypto1, into orbit this May. The startup has also conducted experiments on the International Space Station. With its additional funding, Cryptosat’s self-described “root of trust” can expand, hastening the development of novel cryptographic concepts like ZK-SNARKs.
As cited in a press release detailing the seed raise, Yan Michalevsky, Cryptosat’s cofounder, stated:
“Cryptosat provides unprecedented integrity, confidentiality and authenticity guarantees for the most sensitive cryptographic operations by leveraging an environment that provides ultimate physical security: space.”
Protocol Labs is working with Cryptosat on space-hosted Verifiable Delay Functions and other time-based cryptographic primitives. The startup is also partnered with Velas, an EVM-compatible blockchain, for which Cryptosat is building a Random Beacon, capable of transmitting tamperproof random numbers when called by apps.
Farkhad Shagulyamov, the CEO of Velas, commented on the space-based Random Beacon:
“Random Beacons must be unpredictable and resistant to any manipulations. We believe that our partnership with Cryptosat will help us develop a top-quality Random Beacon, which has no analogues in the modern crypto industry.”
Tamperproofing crypto from space
A lot of cryptography relies on securely generated randomicity, key generation and other inputs. That opens the door open to physical attacks. If hardware is compromised, data meant to be secret could leak, rendering systems — often securing billions of dollars — vulnerable to exploitation.
Because of the challenges presented by cutting-edge cryptography and the science’s innate tendency toward privacy, many advanced proof constructions were only feasible for specific applications previously. This significantly hinders experimentation and, consequently, advancement in the field. If successful, Cryptosat’s solution could revolutionize cryptography by making previously challenging tasks as simple as making an oracle request.
A Medium article describes the project’s eventual capabilities. They include enhancements to Public Key Infrastructure systems, an unbiased source of randomness, verifiable event ordering, and elimination of “toxic waste” — the data that needs destroying when setting up ZK-SNARKs.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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