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Introducing zCloak Network - Providing Zero-Knowledge Proof as a Service for the Polkadot Network

Published date: May 13 2021

1. Main goal

zCloak Network provides Zero-Knowledge Proof as a Service based on the Polkadot Network. It enables a new computation paradigm called the Cloaking Space, which provides a private and scalable computation environment for Web 3.0.

zCloak Network is a Web3 foundation grant project (formerly known as the Starks Network project). The project milestone has been finished and delivered in Dec. 2020. Currently the project is in the waiting list of the Rococo V1 testnet. It will test cross-chain ZKP verification with other parachains in Polkadot.

 2. Project’s highlights:

Founded in 2020, the zCloak Network project was inspired by the Polkadot vision of Web 3.0 — return the sovereign control of personal data to the users. With its novel approach of Self-Sovereign Data and Self-Proving Computation, zCloak Network enables computation and analysis of personal data without sending them to 3rd party servers. As such, it can prevent private data from being stolen or misused. The zCloak Network uses a zk-STARK based virtual machine for general purpose computations. It can provide Zero-Knowledge Proof as a Service (ZKPaaS) to other parachains in Polkadot/Kusama — serving as a confidential computation infrastructure in the ecosystem.

zCloak Main Features:

  • Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZKP)

  • Cloaking Space

  • The zCloak Network

3. Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZKP)

ZKP is a cryptographic technology with two interesting properties — zero knowledge and succinctness. On one hand, you can use it to prove that you know a secret without revealing any knowledge about that secret. On the other hand, you can verify a large and complex computation is done correctly — a.k.a. computational integrity — with a tiny fraction of the efforts needed to actually perform the computation. If you look at the function we gave in the beginning of this article, this means we can prove the integrity of the STF execution without disclosing the input data or the computational process. We can also do long and complex computations off-chain and only leave the succinct proof on-chain for people to verify its integrity. As such, the problems of the re-execution model can be easily solved.

4. Identity Management

In the era of big data and cloud computing, people are used to a centralized way of computation. You send your personal data — e.g. your id, income, health record or even facial features — to 3rd party servers. These 3rd parties will run some computation using your data and then provide you with some service based on the result of their computation. From social media to financial service providers, this is the status quo.

Bad news is, in this process, your personal data can get disclosed, misused or sold without your consent or even awareness. This has happened before and is still happening everyday. So zCloak can’t help but to ask: can people use their data for computation/analysis/model-running without sending them to 3rd parties? Ideally, zCloak want their data stored and processed in an environment which is invisible to outsiders — like in a Cloaking Space.

The answer is yes using the ZKP verification above. In the Cloaking Space, you control your own data and you can run all sorts of computation without sending your data away. Note that the data stored in the Cloaking Space is not just some arbitrary data on your device, but they are attested by some credible network/organization to guarantee its authenticity. The type of computation can range from a regular STF of a blockchain, a check of your income for a bank loan to an examination of your facial features to pass an airport checkpoint. In addition to checking your data meet certain criteria, the computation also checks the validity of your data attestations.

5. The zCloak Network

zCloak Network will build the necessary ZKP related infrastructures for the Cloaking Space. Main components include a wallet app/extension, a substrate-based blockchain and a network of incentivized ZKP service providers. 

  1. zCloak wallet - The Cloaking Space concept will be implemented as a mobile app and a browser extension. Users will store their personal data as Self-Sovereign Data in the wallet. Programs for all sorts of applications can be imported into the wallet and Cloaked Computation can be carried out using the Distaff VM proof generator in the wallet. The computation will end up with a result and a ZKP, which can be safely sent to external parties in exchange for services.

  2. zCloak blockchain - The zCloak blockchain is built with the Substrate framework. It can easily interoperate with other parachains in the Polkadot/Kusama network. The main functionalities of the zCloak blockchain include coordinating the work of ZKP service providers, settling payment for ZKP service fee, setting up smart contracts to react to user computation results, dealing with network governance and working as a port to other parachains in Polkadot/Kusama or other public blockchains such as Ethereum, BSC and Solana, etc.

  3. ZKP service network - A decentralized service network will be organized around the zCloak blockchain for the storage and verification of ZKP.

6. Fund, Investor & Ventures That Invested In zCloak

On April 9, zCloak Network announced the completion of a $1.3 million seed round led by IOSG Ventures and Hypersphere Ventures. Other notable participants include KR1, DFG, Advanced Blockchain AG, PAKA Fund and Digital Renaissance Foundation. Also, The zCloak Network project has received a grant from the Web3 foundation in September 2020 and has successfully completed its milestones. It is expected to launch in the Kusama network in Q3 of 2021 and provide service in production mode.

7. Conclusion

In summary, the zCloak Network will provide all the necessary building blocks to realize the Cloaking Space concept — to build a new type of blockchain that is private and scalable powered by a zk-STARK VM for Web 3.0.

About zCloak Network

zCloak Network is a privacy-focused computing platform based on Polkadot. It uses a novel zk-STARK virtual machine for the generation and verification of STARK proofs. Based on its unique Self-Sovereign Data and Self-Proving Computation technology, users can perform computation and analysis of their data without sending them away to 3rd party servers. It can also provide privacy computing service for parachains in Polkadot via cross-chain message passing. With a business model of “Zero-Knowledge Proof as a Service”, the zCloak Network will provide a complete privacy computation solution in a world of multi-chains.

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