The cross-chain protocol has become indispensable with the development of multi-chain ecology, but because it carries a large number of funds, it belongs to a category of projects with high technical and security difficulties. In 2022 alone, cross-chain bridges such as Wormhole, Ronin Network, BNB Chain, Horizon, and Nomad have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in funds due to hacker attacks.
Back to the fundamentals of the project, security is the most important issue for cross-chain protocols. The zero-knowledge proof technology solution using “trustless” can avoid possible manual intervention and human factors in the design of cross-chain protocols and may become a future development route. And from there, Way Network was born.
The development history of cross-chain protocol
The development of cross-chain protocols can be seen as a process of continuous decentralization and reduction of external conditional intervention. After excluding fully centralized cross-chain protocols such as exchanges and wallets, the commonly used so-called decentralized cross-chain protocols still adopt a relatively centralized approach. The specific security mechanisms in such schemes include POS consensus, multi-signature and secure multi-party computing.
This is also the type of cross-chain solution that is most prone to security incidents, and it is difficult for the project party to prove its innocence after funds are stolen. For example, although Ronin Network needs 5 of the 9 verifiers to complete the withdrawal, Sky Mavis controls 4 of them and can sign on behalf of another verifier, Axie DAO. Therefore, hackers only need to control Sky Mavis. Controlled 5 of 9 validators, completing the attack.
In recent months, cross-chain protocols using decentralized security mechanisms led by LayerZero have gradually gained an advantage in development. LayerZero is a full-chain interoperability protocol. It deploys an Endpoint on each supported chain. The Endpoint will run an ultra-light node, and transmit block headers containing cross-chain information on demand through Oracle (oracle machine), and then The proof information is transmitted through the Relayer (repeater) for verification, so as to ensure the correctness of the information. This makes LayerZero rely on two off-chain components, the relay and the oracle, to transmit messages between different chains.
Users must trust that the relay and the oracle will not conspire to do evil, and they must also believe that the protocol itself will not cause harm to the Relayer. However, according to the experiments of L2BEAT and others, in LayerZero’s architecture, repeaters and oracles can be changed, and attackers can extract underlying assets by changing repeaters and oracles at any time.
This does not mean that the development of cross-chain protocols stops here. Among the two main expansion schemes of Ethereum, the founder Vitalik Buterin believes that ZK Rollup will beat Optimistic Rollup in the long run. Recently, projects represented by Way Network have begun to apply zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) technology to cross-chain protocols to realize cross-chain bridges without trust assumptions. Users do not need to trust any external third parties, including the protocol itself, and only need to pass mathematical and cryptographic proofs to ensure the security of inter-chain communication.
The first-generation cross-chain protocol is usually based on POS, multi-signature, and multi-party security calculations. Generally, it needs to be verified by dozens of nodes to complete the cross-chain information transmission; the second-generation cross-chain protocol is based on game theory. Assuming that it is expanded, the logic that originally required multi-party verification or even dozens of verifications in the first generation of products is simplified to unilaterally verify the correctness of relay information transmission through the oracle machine Oracle.
The third-generation cross-chain protocol uses pure mathematics and cryptography to make zero-knowledge proofs of the information transmission process and verifies the verification contract deployed on the target chain to ensure the validity of the proof itself, information and user. Payload.
Technical architecture of Way Network
Way Network is a full-chain interoperability protocol based on zero-knowledge proof without any trust assumptions. It is designed with a modular architecture so that applications can easily integrate with it. Way Network mainly includes 3 routes and 4 components.
Among the three routes, the core route is realized through zkRelayer; the upper route is realized through Way Luggage; the lower route is realized through Way IMTP. The 4 components include Sender and Receiver smart contracts, zkRelayer, Luggage and IMTP.
zkRelayer relays block headers from the source chain as well as proofs, messages and payloads on the target chain. zkRelayer is also the key to Way Network’s trustless assumption and scalability, which will be described in detail below.
Way Luggage is a cross-chain data transfer protocol in which users hold data ownership and is responsible for ensuring the availability of cross-chain data. In the context of Web2, user data is stored on a specific centralized server, the ownership of the data belongs to the platform, and the user does not have any authority over the data itself.
An important difference between Web3 and Web2 is in solving the problem of data ownership. Users can store data on the blockchain through IPFS, Filecoin, Arweave and other decentralized storage projects. On this basis, Way Luggage provides cross-chain authority control, inter-chain data transmission and processing, privacy protection and other technologies to ensure that users truly own data ownership.
Way IMTP is an inter-chain message transmission protocol that provides faster inter-chain communication by sending verified messages to dApps. Users can preview messages before the messages on the target chain are verified, which can save Receiver’s verification time on the target chain.
The difference between IMTP and XMTP, another Web3 encrypted communication protocol, is that the former solves the problem of inter-chain communication, while the latter solves the problem of communication between users or applications on the same chain, which is similar to WAN and The difference between LANs.
The Sender contract on the source chain and the Receiver contract on the target chain is a pair of smart contracts based on zkRelayer’s application. The Sender contract is responsible for receiving cross-chain messages on the source chain and sending them to zkRelayer; Receiver maintains a list of the latest block headers and updates them after verifying zkRelayer’s proof.
Combining zkRelayer, Way Luggage, Way IMTP and other components, Way Network can not only cross-chain assets but also transmit instant messages, status and files between blockchains, getting rid of the limitations of cross-chain assets.
How to realize cross-chain communication without trust assumptions?
The cross-chain process needs to consider the trade-offs among factors such as security, decentralization, cross-chain cost, and cross-chain efficiency. Most cross-chain protocols have their own priorities, but realizing the trustless assumption has become the current development of cross-chain protocols. an important requirement.
zkRelayer is the key to realizing trust-free assumption and scalability. It uses zero-knowledge proof technology to send and receive messages in a trust-free way, providing a secure environment for inter-chain message transmission.
In the entire proof process of Way Network, the process of chain A→Sender→zkRelayer→ZK Verifier→Receiver→B chain only relies on mathematical and cryptographic formulas. Once the code is successfully deployed, it no longer needs the intervention of external conditions, because the code It will be open source, and it can also be verified that no external force can affect the cross-chain process.
The cross-chain communication solution based on zkRelayer will have the following advantages:
- Trustless security without trust assumptions
- No permission required
- Versatile and pervasive
- Scalable and extensible
- High-efficiency and low cost
At the heart of zkRelayer is zkProver, which is responsible for performing the most computationally demanding generation of zero-knowledge proofs. We know that zero-knowledge proof is a cryptographic technique in which the prover can convince the verifier that a certain result is correct without providing any useful information to the verifier.
The zero-knowledge proof system used by Way Network is called zkSpark, which is a transparent zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive proof of knowledge (zkSNARK), which has the advantage of short proof and verification time, but does not require trust initialization and does not involve any confidentiality content, and does not require complex steps to generate public parameters.
zkSpark is based on sublinear proof time programmable codes, which is the time-optimal proof scheme among all ZKPs. Verification proofs will incur sublinear costs. zkSpark is also a cryptographic primitive designed by the Way Network team. On the basis of not increasing information transmission, zkProver will not increase the time for relaying messages, making the user’s cross-chain process safe and credible.
The development of cross-chain protocols can be seen as a process of continuous decentralization and reduction of external conditional intervention. Way Network adopts zero-knowledge proof technology. The cross-chain bridge based on zkRelayer can truly realize the trustless assumption. After deployment, it only relies on mathematical and cryptographic algorithms to ensure the security of the cross-chain. It is expected to become the next generation of cross-chain protocol.
On the basis of asset cross-chain, Way Network will also realize the application of cross-chain bridge in DeFi, social, NFT market and games. The most promising of these are full-chain DEX, cross-chain lending, and decentralized stablecoins in DeFi.
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