On 1 November 2018, iExec, a decentralized computing power market based in Lyon, France, released its end-to-end reliable execution environment. IExec developers describe technology as "the first scalable Intel SGX solution for companies to achieve privacy and security in blockchain-based computing."
What is Intel SGX?
Intel SGX, or Software Guard Extensions, is an extension of popular architecture, introduced in 2015. It is designed to increase the security of the application code and its data. As described on the Intel website, Intel SGX enables protection through the use of "enclaves", which are isolated regions of memory built into the CPU. These regions protect data from running processes at any privileged level, including the operating system.
According to the iExec Medium blog, enclaves are tools that change paradigm in the world of cloud computing. "Thanks to the security they offer, anyone is able to run applications on any computer without the fear of divulging sensitive data to third parties".
The enclaves act as "a bubble or a safe", protecting and isolating an application from a host machine. "Even the administrator of the host machine's root privileges is not able to penetrate this bubble to access and tamper with the application," explains the iExec press release.
Clouds for developers
In May 2018, iExec released its market for trading in the power of cloud computing "as a product". According to iExec, one of the most important technologies for the success of decentralized cloud infrastructure – in addition to blockchain – is a trusted execution environment (TEE), like Intel SGX.
The decentralized nature of the iExec cloud computing network aims to ensure security. Privileged root users will never be able to inspect sensitive data or tamper with the application running on the decentralized host.
iExec worked on its solution using Intel SGX, in collaboration with Scontain UG, a software development company based in Dresden, Germany.
In the iExec official press release, the new solution is presented as "the first complete toolkit including Software Development Kit (SDK) and technical documentation, for companies that easily employ Intel SGX enclaves to ensure end-to-end protection of any blockchain Product."
The company emphasizes that "end-to-end" privacy is guaranteed, in the sense that although decentralized applications (DApps) are developed on decentralized nodes, they can never be inspected by anyone other than the end user. . iExec presented this new solution at the Devcon4 conference, one of Ethereum's largest blockchain developers and researchers.
An on-demand market for cloud resources
According to the company's Medium blog, iExec aims to create a new paradigm for cloud computing: a global and open market where computing power is "exchanged as a commodity".
The company claims that the iExec market allows application developers to access an economic, secure and scalable computing power on demand. Each transaction between buyers and sellers is verified and certified by the Proof-of-Contribution algorithm, which verifies every off-chain calculation performed.
Today, iExec is working for "iExec V3", where the market will evolve beyond cloud power trading to also integrate data set trading. According to the company, iExec offers developer toolkits for creating decentralized applications that will run on a decentralized network of nodes with a high level of security and scalability.
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