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Microsoft To Fortify Its Blockchain Network With TEEs

The two new patents by Microsoft have revealed that the company is aiming to fortify its blockchain network with the use of trusted execution environments (TEE), in a bid to add more security.
In two publications by the US Patent and Trademark Office dated August 9, the two patents clearly elucidated how the TEEs would be of added advantage, in terms of security, to a vast network of blockchains (or security protocol code) which requires specific nodes that act as validator nodes (VNs) on the blockchain. In the blockchain world, a node is just a meeting point for receiving, storing and sending data within the network.
With the massive volume of data to be held, a TEE attestation is thus required to confirm that each authorized member of the system has matching information within the node. As detailed by the first patent, the TEE would merely help in putting a ‘consortium blockchain network.’

“In one example of the technology, a first node is endorsed. During endorsement of a first node, a predetermined type of blockchain or other security protocol code to be authorized and a pre-determined membership list may be stored in a trusted execution environment (TEE) of the first node.”

The second patent also explains that TEEs are mainly to save the stress of the long process of decryption. When TEEs come in place, some encrypted transactions on the network could be processed and confirmed “directly” to the official state of the blockchain without any need for decryption.

“’Directly’ updating the state means that the VN updates the state without any actions or confirmation being required by any other entity to update the state. The VN may then broadcast the updated official state of the processed blockchain to the blockchain network. In some examples, because of the trust, VNs do not need to do re-computation for verification,” the second patent reads.

The two patents, aside from the two cases aforementioned, discussed the process of TEE attestation as regard to a “Confidential Consortium (COCO) Blockchain framework,” which potentially allow more complex systems of verification requiring the consensus of a multiplicity of validation nodes.
The tech company had started offering cloud-based Azure Blockchain Workbench, albeit the two publications were submitted as early as June 2018. Microsoft has also announced this month that it has updated additional feature to the software designed in mind with clients operating on public blockchain such as Ethereum.

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