Mining for Privacy: How to Bootstrap a Snarky Blockchain

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs, and more specifically succinct non-interactive zero-knowledge arguments (zk-SNARKs), have been proven to be the ``Swiss army knife'' of the blockchain and distributed ledger space, with a variety of applications in privacy, interoperability and scalability. Many commonly used SNARK systems rely on a structured reference string, the secure generation of which turns out to be their Achilles heel: If the randomness used for the generation is known, the soundness of the proof system can be broken with devastating consequences for the underlying blockchain system that utilises them. In this work we describe and analyse, for the first time, a blockchain mechanism that produces a secure SRS with the characteristic that security is shown under comparable conditions to the blockchain protocol itself. Our mechanism makes use of the recent discovery of updateable structured reference strings to perform this secure generation in a fully distributed manner. In this way, the SRS emanates from the normal operation of the blockchain protocol itself without the need of additional security assumptions or off-chain computation and/or verification. We provide concrete guidelines for the parameterisation of this setup which allows for the completion of a secure setup in a reasonable period of time. We also provide an incentive scheme that, when paired with the update mechanism, properly incentivises participants into contributing to secure reference string generation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFinancial Cryptography and Data Security
Subtitle of host publication25th International Conference, FC 2021, Virtual Event, March 1–5, 2021, Revised Selected Papers, Part I
EditorsNikita Borisov, Claudia Diaz
Place of PublicationBerlin, Heidelberg
PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-662-64322-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-662-64321-1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2021
EventFinancial Cryptography and Data Security 2021 Twenty-Fifth International Conference - Virtual Conference
Duration: 1 Mar 20215 Mar 2021
Conference number: 25

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferenceFinancial Cryptography and Data Security 2021 Twenty-Fifth International Conference
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Mining for Privacy: How to Bootstrap a Snarky Blockchain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this