The TEA Project’s Hardware-based VRF

VRFs include a public key as part of its function.

Polkadot VRF

Polkadot algorithmically generates random numbers by using the hash of previous VRF values as a seed. The function is verifiable as it generates both a random number and a proof of randomness as a result. Here’s an explanation from the Polkadot wiki:

CryptoSat VRF

The CryptoSat project uses build satellites that form trusted modules for blockchains and other crypto-related applications. CryptoSat launches small cube satellites into space each with a random number generator embedded inside. The source of the random number generator could be anything outside of it as it uses a sensor to pick up a random quantifiable aspect of the phenomenon it’s measuring.

Photo of CryptoSat’s presentation at ETH Seattle (July 8, 2022)

The TEA Project’s Construction and Use of VRF

VRF is used in the TEA Project’s remote attestation (RA) process as it’s very important to decide who will RA who. During remote attestation, a random number is sent with a public key bi-directionally among tester and testee. It’s designed this way to verify that who sent it is in fact who said they sent it. If someone can designate which nodes will undergo RA, then this person would have the power to control the RA process in general. VRF is implemented within the TEA Project so that no one can control the RA process.

Verifiable randomness is just one aspect that goes into making the TEA Project resilient against hacks.
  • VRF is used to decide which node will run any particular task and who will be its verifiers.
  • Anyone in this verifier group can verify that it’s using a VRF, so they’ll know it’s valid.
  • After the task is executed and any traces are cleaned up, the particular VRF that was run will be posted in public (either to layer1 or layer2) so that everyone else can verify it.

TEA Project’s Hardware Root of Trust for VRF

An integral aspect of the TEA Project is that one of our roots of trust is in hardware, specifically that each of our trusted nodes has a TPM chip inside. In the TEA Project’s implementation of “VRF,” it’s the TPM hardware that generates a random number. This number can be verified as random using trusted computing technology. Ours is a hardware-based way of performing VRF, not the algorithmic math way as found in most other projects.

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