Commonly Asked Questions
What is the Secret Network?
The Secret Network is a decentralized network of computers (which we call "secret nodes") that use hardware-based and software-based privacy technologies to enable secure computation. On top of this network, developers can build Secret Apps - unstoppable, permissionless applications that can utilize encrypted data without ever exposing the data itself, even to the nodes in the network performing computations.
What's so special about Secret Network?
Secret Network combines the best features of decentralized, open-source networks and blockchains with the benefits of data privacy and improved usability. These improvements are critical for achieving mass adoption.
We want to enjoy the benefits of smart contracts and decentralized applications (or dApps): they are robust, unstoppable, censor-resistant and transparent. But blockchains, and by extension smart contracts, have one glaring problem that is often overlooked — all data stored on them is public. In that sense, blockchains are worse than anything that came before them when it comes to privacy. Instead of trusting your data with a single organization (e.g., as is the case with Facebook, Google, your bank, etc), you now have to trust everyone. Secret contracts and Secret Apps combine these benefits of dApps but add the ability to keep data private, helping remove one of the biggest barriers to mass adoption of the decentralized web.
Why call it Secret?
A secret is something that you don’t want to share with everyone, but still want to share with people you choose to trust. A secret is something that you want to keep protected - not because it’s something bad, but because it’s something valuable. We call this network “Secret” because it allows developers and users to protect valuable data while still enabling them to share and compute it when, how, and with whomever they choose. Secret Network is where these important concepts of privacy, freedom, and consent coincide.
What are secret contracts and Secret Apps?
"Secret contracts" are privacy-preserving smart contracts built on Secret Network. Smart contracts (in this context) are essentially self-executing pieces of code that are managed on a blockchain. Secret contracts improve on regular smart contracts in that they not only solve for correctness, but also for data privacy. Secret contracts are written in the Rust programming language . Secret Apps utilize the capabilities of secret contracts to enable unique use cases that empower users and increase opportunities for growth and impact.
Members of our community, including secret node operators and Secret App developers, believe that privacy is a fundamental human right and a public good. Privacy needs to be protected and supported by the technologies we use in daily life. However, an overly centralized internet and large data monopolies have put our privacy, our security, and our society at risk. That's why we are dedicated to building solutions with privacy at their core, empowering users to take and keep control of their valuable information. Privacy makes the applications we rely on more usable and more secure - and when privacy is not protected, neither are we.
By using blockchain, a decentralized network of computers can reach consensus on the state of the network while remaining open and permissionless. Secret Network is built on Cosmos SDK / Tendermint , a popular blockchain framework, allowing for a wide variety of organizations and individuals to participate in our community and network. The only way to build a sustainable foundation for privacy-first applications is by creating an open, diverse, and transparent culture, united by the purpose of data dignity for all!
What is programmable privacy?
Secret Network is focused on achieving programmable privacy . Most privacy solutions in the blockchain space today concentrate only on transactional privacy, specifically obscuring data on senders or receivers of transactions. Programmable privacy is a much more expansive vision, as a transaction is just one (trivial) type of computation. Secret Network allows applications to use encrypted inputs, encrypted outputs, and encrypted state, meaning we can enable groundbreaking new use cases for smart contracts and decentralized applications.
What does Secret Network help solve?
Everything! Which applications would you use every day if they could not protect you or your data? When you use blockchains today for any purpose, you are forced to compromise on privacy. Any decentralized applications built on Secret Network benefit from its privacy protections. Our community is primarily focused on use cases that help us achieve our stated mission: to advance privacy as a human right and a public good; to empower individuals through development and use of decentralized technologies; and to protect freedom and create more valuable systems by eliminating data monopolies.
Sample use cases include: privacy-preserving credit scoring and lending; private on-chain auctions for cryptoart and other digital collectibles; decentralized access control; secret voting for collective decision-making; privacy-preserving machine learning; and many more applications in the fields of decentralized finance, gaming, healthcare, and dozens of other industries.
What is SCRT?
SCRT (pronounced "Secret") is the native coin of the Secret Network. This means SCRT is used to pay fees and transfer value on the network. Secret nodes must stake SCRT in order to operate on the network, and in return they receive fees and network rewards in SCRT. When nodes go offline, they can be "slashed" and lose a portion of their SCRT stake. Holders of SCRT who are not operating nodes may "bond" their stake to a specific node in order to become a delegator. Delegators have an opportunity to earn a share of fees and network rewards by supporting a particular set of validators.
Another utility for SCRT is governance of the network. Secret nodes can create and vote on governance proposals using SCRT, allowing for decentralized control of the network.
What are Trusted Execution Environments, and why do we use them?
Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs) are special enclaves inside a computer that function like a "black box", allowing computations to occur confidentially inside of them. They are utilized in a broad range of everyday hardware, including the fingerprint readers in smartphones. Secret nodes in the network use these secure enclaves to protect the data used by secret contracts.
While our community is constantly exploring other innovative privacy solutions (such as multi-party computing, homomorphic encryption, private set intersection, etc.), they are simply not practical to use in production for applications today. There are always tradeoffs between scalability, performance, and security, and today secure enclaves provide the best option for protecting data privacy in a decentralized network. We continue to explore and research other solutions!
What is the relationship between Enigma and Secret Network?
Enigma MPC is a development company that is one of the core contributors to Secret Network . Their work is critical to the Secret ecosystem as they contribute to both protocol-level functionality (such as secret contracts ) and key applications for the network. There are currently dozens of companies and individual contributors currently supporting Secret Network and its ecosystem, whether it is through development work, node operation, education, or many other means!
What is the relationship between ENG and Secret Network?
Enigma is also the name of an ERC20 token (known as ENG) that was issued in 2017. At this moment, there are no entities developing technologies or networks based on the utilization of ENG. There is an ongoing community-organized swap between ENG and SCRT (the native coin of Secret Network) that is expected to last until at least the end of 2020. The swap is 1:1 between ENG and SCRT. More information can be found on these other sites:
What is Cosmos, and why are you using their technologies?
Cosmos represents a standard approach to developing scalable and interoperable blockchain applications. We believe the Cosmos SDK, Tendermint and Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC) are groundbreaking since they are looking ahead to a future of many interconnected, app-specific blockchains. We're excited to see how Secret Network can bring more privacy solutions to the Cosmos ecosystem. Learn more about this on our blog.
Is Secret Network a "Layer One" or "Layer Two" solution?
Secret Network has its own consensus and provides privacy for smart contracts deployed on the network, without Secret Network needing to interoperate with any other blockchain. We have often referred to this as "blockchain independence", but based on this description, others would call Secret Network a "Layer One" blockchain. However, part of our vision has always been bringing privacy to every blockchain. This means our community is continuing to explore key "Layer Two" functionality for Secret Network, such as by utilizing IBC / Cosmos interoperability, building an Ethereum bridge, or other means.
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