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IC3 Publishes Research on Blockchain Utilization of Intel Software Guard Extensions Offering Enhanced Protection


The Initiative for Cryptocurrencies and Contracts (IC3), a consortium based in NYC of leading academics and industry leaders who are driving innovations in Blockchains and distributed ledgers for financial and other applications, has released three publications that study the use of Intel® Software Guard Extensions (Intel® SGX) in Blockchain implementations.

Intel SGX is a technology for applications needing enhanced protection of select code and data from disclosure or modification. Intel SGX makes such protections possible through the use of enclaves or trusted execution environments.


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IC3’s research focuses on Blockchain applications that require enhanced protection of select code and data from disclosure or modification. The three papers study the use of Intel SGX as a technology for improving privacy and security of off chain contracts and trust in side channels. The Blockchain applications developed by IC3 and used during the research include:

  • Hawk creates a decentralized smart contract system that does not store financial transaction information visibly on the Blockchain. It enables programmers to generate smart contracts without needing indepth knowledge of cryptography as the compiler automatically generates an efficient cryptographic protocol to interact with the Blockchain.
  • Town Crier seeks to enable smart contracts to extract data from existing data sources. The Town Crier architecture creates a conduit between source-authenticated data to smart contracts on the Blockchain. Additionally, it supports private data requests for online data sources when confidentiality is required.
  • Sealed-Glass Proofs models the capabilities of trusted hardware, such as Intel SGX, that can attest to ‘correct execution’ of a piece of code, but maintains ‘transparency’ of the content of smart contracts even in presence of side channels. Sealed-Glass Proofs determined that any ‘information leakage’ that occurred only resulted in the prover learning his or her own secrets.

“IC3 is using Intel SGX in our Blockchain solutions and technologies to enhance the performance, reliability and security of distributed ledgers,” said Elaine Shi, IC3 co-Director and Associate Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University. “This includes research into Intel SGX as an enabling technology for the privacy and security of smart contracts, cryptocurrencies, and authenticated data feeds.”

“Intel continues to advance the science and application of Blockchain technology,” said Michael Reed, Blockchain portfolio director, Intel’s New Business Initiatives. “IC3 has demonstrated how Intel Software Guard Extensions can improve the security, scalability, and privacy of distributed ledger deployments.”

IC3  is an initiative of faculty members at Cornell University, Cornell Tech, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Technion. IC3 offers world-class expertise in computer science that spans cryptography, distributed systems, game theory, programming languages, and system security techniques. IC3’s innovations include new cryptocurrency and smart contract technologies that offer both the scientifically rigorous security properties required for robust Blockchains and the performance and reliability demanded by practitioners. IC3 is based at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in New York City. For information about joining IC3, please see

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