Enigma is an off-chain decentralized network that enables blockchains to store and run private computations on data. The public nature of the blockchain guarantees transparency by creating an unchangeable record of activities, but this level of transparency limits the potential use cases of its technology. Private data will be fully exposed when it flows through nodes on the blockchain. Sensitive information would have to stored and processed in centralized manner for security, which defeats the purpose of using the blockchain in the first place.
Enigma is creating a decentralized computation platform that guarantees two core functions for blockchain networks:
1. Privacy – Enigma uses multiparty computation (MPC) and a distributed hash table to store and compute data queries without relying on third parties. Every node on the network handles a random piece of the data and no single node can access the data in its entirety.
2. Scalability – Computations and data storage on Enigma are not replicated by every node in the network. Each node performs computation over different parts of the data. The decreased redundancy enables more demanding computations and allows blockchains to scale.
How Enigma Works
Enigma connects to existing blockchains and provides them with a secondary layer where they can off-load data for storage and perform intensive computations. Transactions are still facilitated by the blockchain, which enforces access based on digital signatures and programmable permissions.
Privacy is baked into the Enigma’s design. It supplies a scripting language for designing decentralized applications using what it calls “private contracts,” which are a variation of smart contracts that can handle private information. Developers can use private contracts to build secure end-to-end decentralized apps without having to trust centralized third parties with sensitive data. Apps can use the protocol to run computations on data without having access to the raw data itself.
Enigma’s off-chain design solves the following problems in blockchain design:
Off-Chain Storage – Blockchains are not designed to function as general-purpose databases. Enigma uses an off-chain distributed hash table (DHT) to give blockchains access to references of stored data. Off-chain nodes make up a distributed database, and each node gets only piece of encrypted data to ensure the computation is private and fault tolerant.
Privacy-Enforcing Computation – To use Engima, developers must write private contracts that define the public parts executed on the blockchain and private parts that are run off-chain on Enigma. Private contracts execute code without leaking raw data to any nodes, which is necessary if they are to replace current centralized solutions that process sensitive data in ways that negate the benefits of a blockchain.
Heavy Processing – Even without privacy concerns, most blockchains can’t scale to handle a large volume of complex transactions. Enigma’s off-chain network can be used to run heavy computations that are then broadcast through the blockchain.
Potential Applications of Enigma
Data Marketplace – Enigma can facilitate a direct consumer-to-business data marketplace where consumers can provide access to their data with guaranteed privacy, security, and autonomous control. For example, a pharmaceutical company looking for suitable candidates for clinical trials can scan genome databases to find the right patients.
Secure Backend – Many corporations store large amounts of customer data to provide personalized services, targeted advertising, special offers, etc. By using Enigma, companies will be able to securely use their data without actually storing or processing the data on their services, eliminating security risks and assuring customer privacy.
Internal Compartmentalization – Large organizations can use Enigma to protect their data and trade secrets from rogue employees and corporate espionage. Employees will be able to use data for the benefit of the organization, but compartmentalization will prevent them from stealing the data.
N-Factor Authentication – Sensitive authentication data like voice, fingerprint, and facial recognition can be securely stored in a private contract. Only the owner of the data will have access.
Identity – Enigma can securely authenticate and anonymously store identities with a just a few lines of code. An authenticating private contract can be executed every time a user logs in. It will validate the user and link their real identity to their public identity. The entire process is trustless and private.
IoT – Data collected from Internet of Things (IoT) devices can be securely stored, managed, and used in a decentralized cloud.
Distributed Personal Data Storage – Users can store and share their data with third-party services while maintaining full control and ownership. They can use Enigma to set specific parameters for each service using private contracts.
Crypto Banking – Enigma can be used to run a full-service crypto bank that can securely store private user data. Users will be able to take loans, deposit coins, or invest with the autonomous control of the blockchain without revealing any private financial data.
Blind e-Voting – Enigma can be used to vote on political elections, company board meetings, etc. without exposing anything other than the final outcome. Not only is the privacy of each voted maintained, even the actual vote count can remain private.
Enigma Token (ENG)
Enigma has a utility token called ENG that is used for:
Security Deposits – Enigma’s incentive scheme is based on fees rather than mining rewards. Nodes are compensated for providing computation resources, but they must first submit a security deposit to a private contract before they can participate in the network and receive fees. After every computation is completed, a private contract verifies that correctness and fairness was maintained. Any node that is found to have lied about their outcome or abort the computation prematurely will lose the security deposit, which will be split between the honest nodes.
Computation Fees – Every request for storage, computation, or data retrieval has a fixed price, similar to the concept of Gas in Ethereum. Different nodes execute different parts of each computation and are compensated according to their contribution, which is measured in rounds.
Storage Fees – Fees for data storage are market based and time limited. The hosting contract is automatically renewed using the owner’s account balance. If the balance is too low, access to the data will be restricted until additional funds are deposited. The data will be deleted within in a set period of time if the owner fails to pay the storage fee.
ENG Volume, Pricing and Market Cap
The total available supply of ENG is fixed at 150 million tokens. They are distributed as follows:
– 75 million tokens were distributed in a crowdsale that was held in October 2017
– 37.5 million tokens will be used for community incentives
– 37.5 million tokens are held by the Enigma team
ENG joined the market in October 2017 at $0.60 USD with a $64 million USD valuation. Like most altcoins, its price rose in January 2018 to reach an all-time high of $8.06 USD with a $603 million USD market cap. The value of ENG has since fallen, but it’s still higher than the post-ICO price.
Buying, Storing and Selling ENG
ENG can be acquired from Binance, Huobi, Bittrex, Liqui, Mercatox, OKEx, Upbit, GOPAX, Hotbit, HitBTC, and Tidex.
ENG is an ERC20 token, which means any Ethereum wallet that supports the standard can be used for storage, including MyEtherWallet (MEW), Jaxx, Exodus, Parity, Mist, Metamask, etc. Hardware wallet options include Ledger Nano S and Trezor.
Liquidity of Enigma
Enigma has good market liquidity, and for good reason. The project is being developed by a team of world-class engineers with impressive credentials. Guy Zyskind, Enigma’s cofounder and CEO, was a MIT Media Lab research assistant and he taught the first ever blockchain class at MIT. Can Kisagun, the cofounder and CPO, graduated from MIT’s Sloan School of Management and has experience with tech startups.
Its developers have so far managed to keep up with the road map. They successfully launched Enigma’s first application, a cryptofinancial data marketplace called Catalyst, in Q3 2017, which proves the platform works. They also recently announced a strategic partnership with EtherDelta that will focus on integrating EtherDelta’s live trading capabilities into Catalyst. All of this appears to be bolstering investor confidence. This is a project worth following.