TUW CySec gets one more ERC grant

Prof. Matteo Maffei and his team at the Security & Privacy Research Unit of the Institute of Logic and Computation are exploring the complex security issues of blockchain technologies. Following his ERC Consolidator Grant Foundations and Tools for Client-Side Web Security in 2018, Prof. Maffei has recently been awarded the prestigious ERC Advanced Grant, which provides approximately two and a half million euros over five years for his project “BlockSec.”

Blockchain technology enables transactions and agreements without centralized authority, using ‘smart contracts’—self-executing codes that facilitate processes akin to a notarial supervisor. These contracts operate under a consensus code that, once initiated, runs automatically and cannot be altered, posing significant security concerns.

Prof. Maffei emphasizes the necessity for mathematical reliability in blockchain systems, particularly given the substantial sums involved, with around $66.6 billion processed within the Ethereum ecosystem alone. His team applies methods from software verification, traditionally used in safety-critical domains like aviation software, to ensure the correctness and security of blockchain technologies. These methods mathematically verify that the software is error-free.

Additionally, the project integrates game theory and cryptography to assess and enhance blockchain security. By considering interest-oriented behavior models from game theory, the team aims to ascertain that users cannot manipulate the system to others’ detriment. The project combines these theoretical approaches with practical cryptography and software engineering techniques to bolster the security of smart contracts and ensure the overall safety of blockchain applications.