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.
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!