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Chainlink Introduces VRF Tool to Help Smart Contracts Achieve On-Chain Randomness

Chainlink VRF

Chainlink is best known for its pioneering work around decentralized oracles, but the project’s experts have also gone expansive with work on Mixicles, meta oracles, and beyond. The Link Marines are buzzing anew, then, as Chainlink has rolled out yet another major contribution to the smart contracts ecosystem this week, the Chainlink VRF. The “VRF” […]

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Chainlink VRF

Chainlink is best known for its pioneering work around decentralized oracles, but the project’s experts have also gone expansive with work on Mixicles, meta oracles, and beyond.

The Link Marines are buzzing anew, then, as Chainlink has rolled out yet another major contribution to the smart contracts ecosystem this week, the Chainlink VRF.

The “VRF” in that stands for verifiable random function, a cryptographic primitive that can generate random numbers in verifiable and unbiasable fashion.

Why’s this important? There are no shortage of use cases in which blockchain projects could make use of randomness, but tamper-proof randomness is a tough nut to crack when it comes to actualizing it on-chain. And anything short of tamper-proof randomness can introduce big security hole for projects, Chainlink said in an announcement post:

“A security-sensitive mindset is required to create and successfully defend a smart contract against adversaries seeking to steal the funds held by that contract. Smart contract developers using randomness as a key input should also see the manipulation of that randomness as a critical risk.”

Alas, here’s where Chainlink VRF comes in.

A Powerful Tool for Devs

The key for a reliable VRF is to be unbiasable and unpredictable, which are the exact two characteristics that Chainlink’s new tool is aimed at.

“Chainlink VRF seeks to [be fair and unguessable] by delivering its randomness along with cryptographic proofs that can be verified on-chain, showing that the randomness is indeed unpredictable,” the Chainlink team said.

As for possible use cases for the solution, they’re manifold. Chainlink specifically cited “blockchain gaming, security, [and] layer-two protocols” as low-hanging fruits.

For instance, with regard to gaming industry example, Chainlink added that its new VRF capability could make “games more fun by generating challenging and unpredictable scenarios and environments, and assigning unpredictable player rewards like loot drops.”

And that’s just one hypothetical example of many possible ones. Yet when it comes to how Chainlink VRF can be used in the here and now, look no further than no-loss “lotto” savings game PoolTogether.

PoolTogether Announces Integration

PoolTogether is an Ethereum dApp in which users can buy tickets with stablecoins like Dai or USDC in order to enter weekly or daily prize pools.

However, hitherto the randomization process has been less than perfect, the game’s CEO Leighton Cusack explained in a separate announcement:

“The PoolTogether Protocol requires random numbers to select the winner of each prize. In our initial design, this randomness generation process was a manual and centralized process […] this makes it difficult for some users to fully trust PoolTogether Protocol’s ability to generate a provably fair winner.”

Accordingly, Chainlink VRF is something of an ideal solution for this predicament, which is why the PoolTogether CEO said the project would be integrating with the tool shortly.

“Incorporating Chainlink’s VRF benefits PoolTogether by providing a more reliable and provably secure form of randomness in the selection prize winners, which our users can trust,” Cusack said.

Focus on Randomness Grows

Chainlink VRF is good news for smart contract ecosystems like Ethereum’s. Indeed, Ethereum developers in particular have been deeply considering randomness tools in recent times.

For example, last year the Ethereum Foundation collaborated with Amazon’s AWS and others on a $100,000 USD hardware competition centered on verifiable delay function (VDF) tech.

The idea behind a VDF is similar to a VRF except that the former involves a delay function during its computations. Why? In order to block malicious actors from manipulating, and thus biasing, outputs.

“Verifiable delay functions uniquely tie physical time and cryptography into a promising new tool for the blockchain industry,” the Ethereum Foundation said at the time.

The post Chainlink Introduces VRF Tool to Help Smart Contracts Achieve On-Chain Randomness appeared first on Blockonomi.

Source: https://blockonomi.com/chainlink-vrf-tool/

Blockchain

Congress Fears US Is Losing Battle to Malware and Darkweb Cyberweapons

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In a May 28 virtual roundtable before the congressional Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy, witnesses and congresspeople alike feared that they are not keeping up with criminals hacking the financial system.

Criminals have better resumes than government agents

One witness, Guillermo Christensen, a partner at law firm Ice Miller, admired the cyber talent operating illegally: 

“We are always playing catch up with the criminals. […] It’s very hard to find people who are as qualified as some of these criminal hackers, frankly, to take apart their schemes and trace them.” 

Another issue is the overclassification of government information, presenting a barrier to private-sector security efforts. “The information sharing between the private sector and the public sector is very valuable but it could be better,” saft Naftali Harris, co-founder and CEO of SentiLink, an anti-fraud software company.

Fintech’s vulnerability during the pandemic

In response to a question from subcommittee chairman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) as to the vulnerability of fintech to hacking, cybersecurity strategist Tom Kellermann warned that the current system is vulnerable to new developments and increasingly remote workflows: 

“Financial institutions have the best security in the world, but because of telework and because of the customized malware or weaponry that are being developed in the darkweb, primarily the Russian-speaking darkweb. […] They’ve learned ways around the perimeter defense of the network security espoused by the standards of regulators around the world.”

Kellerman continued to explain that telework allows hackers easy access to well-defended financial networks via the worse-defended home systems of executives. He further called out APIs as adding another element of risk: 

“The greatest vulnerability of fintech is they build out these APIs that allow them to connect to other financial institutions as well as other fintech vendors. Those APIs themselves are being exploited left and right.”

During the hearing, Chairman Cleaver commented that “It seems that we are losing this battle.” His closing remarks were no more optimistic. “Your comments were very informative but also very scary,” the chairman said.

Cointelegraph has reported previously on the rise in scamming and hacking amid the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, a number of new threats specifically target hospitals and healthcare facilities.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/congress-fears-us-is-losing-battle-to-malware-and-darkweb-cyberweapons

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JPMorgan Chase Settles Crypto Credit Card Lawsuit for $2.5M

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Banking giant JPMorgan Chase settled a 2018 lawsuit recently, with a $2.5 total payout — the result of unclear fees charged when using credit cards for crypto purchases. 

A May 26 court document detailed:

“The Court notes that Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., f/k/a Chase Bank USA, N.A. (“Chase” or “Defendant”) has agreed to provide a Cash Settlement Amount of an aggregate of $2,500,000 in cash.”

The lawsuit stemmed from lack of clarity 

In January 2018, JPMorgan Chase quietly altered the terms of use around its credit cards when dealing in crypto asset purchases, failing to alert customers until 10 days after the changes took effect. The terms allegedly charged users the same fees as cash advance activities. 

The legal action took flight later in 2018, seeing Brady Tucker, Ryan Hilton, and Stanton Smith press charges against the banking entity.

Reuters said in a May 27, 2020 brief:

“In a motion filed Tuesday in Manhattan federal court, plaintiffs said the settlement would result in class members getting about 95% of the fees they said they were unlawfully charged.”  

March news settled in May

The plaintiffs’ legal action requested compensation for the deceptively-charged fees, as well as $1 million for damages, with a 75-day window for settlement detail submission, as of Cointelegraph’s March 2020 article.  

The movement was unopposed, according the May 26 court document.

“JPMorgan is not admitting wrongdoing as part of the deal, according to the motion,” Reuters noted in the brief. 

A number of other lawsuit-related headlines filled the crypto space in the first half of 2020, involving Ripple, BitfinexTezos and others.  

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/jpmorgan-chase-settles-crypto-credit-card-lawsuit-for-2-5m

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Emin Gün Sirer’s AVA Labs to Distribute 2M Tokens Ahead of Full Launch

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AVA Labs, a blockchain protocol founded by Cornell’s Emin Gün Sirer, is planning to distribute 2 million tokens in its final testnet before the project’s full launch in summer.

The so-called “Denali Testnet” will serve as the final stage of the AVA network testing before AVA’s mainnet launch. The new testnet will allow each validator to earn up to 2,000 AVA network’s native tokens, AVA Labs announced on May 29.

AVA Labs tokens are not yet listed on any cryptocurrency exchange and are not available for public purchase, a spokesperson at AVA Labs told Cointelegraph.

The testnet to run from June 1 to June 15

While testnet registration starts immediately on May 29, the first phase of the testnet launch will start on June 1. At that time, participants are expected to set up live nodes, an AVA Labs representative explained. The Denali testnet consists of three core challenges, which run until June 15. While AVA Labs expects to move to its mainnet in summer 2020, there is no specific date for the full launch of the project, an AVA Labs’ spokesperson said.

The Denali testnet follows AVA’s first successful testnet known as “Cascade.” Launched in mid-April 2020, AVA’s Cascade testnet amassed 300 developers setting up and running validator nodes.

AVA network is purportedly going to be the “Internet of blockchains” once launched

Initiated by Sirer in 2019, AVA Labs is an open-source platform and a layer 1 protocol for launching decentralized finance, or DeFi, applications and enterprise blockchain solutions. The platform is designed to unify DeFi applications and blockchain deployments in one scalable and interoperable ecosystem. According to AVA co-founder, Kevin Sekniqi, the best way to describe the new protocol is the “Internet of blockchains.”

In late April 2020, AVA Labs’ Sirer said that as much as 95% of all existing cryptocurrencies do not represent any tech advancement and should be regarded as nothing but scams.

AVA network’s token is not to be confused with Travala.com’s proprietary token, AVA. Backed by the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, Travala.com is a blockchain-based travel booking platform that features payments and loyalty rewards in its native crypto, AVA token.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/emin-gun-sirers-ava-labs-to-distribute-2m-tokens-ahead-of-full-launch

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