Binance-backed security auditing firm launches mathematically secured blockchain

Quick Take

  • The CertiK Foundation, a security auditing firm for companies like Binance and TrustToken, aims to design a public blockchain that is mathematically proven secure
  • Facing heated competition from public blockchain projects led by Binance, Huobi, and others, the CertiK Foundation aims for its blockchain to be integrated with other chains and provide them with its security feature

Many things can go wrong when building and running a blockchain, and when they do, millions of dollars can be lost. 

This is the conclusion reached by Columbia University Professor Ronghui Gu after his company, the CertiK Foundation, conducted security auditing of stablecoins and the underlying smart contracts of blockchain heavyweights including Binance, TrustToken, and Bifinex. Now Gu’s firm is launching the testnet of its own blockchain to be “the security infrastructure to all other blockchains,” he told The Block. 

Backed by Binance Labs, Bitmain, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and others, the CertiK Foundation is already running a successful security auditing business that pre-dates its blockchain project. However, Gu said that its goal from the beginning was to establish an independent, completely secured blockchain.

Gu explained that during security auditing, the CertiK Foundation can ensure that parts of the blockchain are functioning correctly, but it cannot guarantee every piece of the blockchain architecture is secured. The CertiK chain, in comparison, hopes to develop a blockchain from ground up that is mathematically proven infallible, a process known as Formal Verification. 

“There are still many facets in this software… any single bug in any of these layers can compromise the entire system. That’s why we feel like although the services provided by the CertiK company is very useful, it still can’t solve the problem from the root. The CertiK Chain is the more foundational and better solution,” said Gu. 

At the heart of the CertiK Chain is the DeepSEA language, which was born out of the research labs at Columbia and Yale Universities. Designed to suit the security needs of the CertiK Chain, the program allows developers––even those less familiar with Formal Verification––to write Formally Verified smart contracts.

To be sure, there are many public blockchain projects out there, and some, like CertiK, also have an academic spin. For example, Gu’s long-time friend Fan Long, a computer science professor at the University of Toronto, is leading a public blockchain project named Conflux that has raised over $35 million from Sequoia China, Metastable, among others. Cryptocurrency exchange giants Binance and Huobi Global are also testing their own public blockchains. 

Faced with heated competition, the CertiK Chain is betting that its security feature and ability to be integrated with existing blockchains will help the firm stand out. 

“As long as there are some dApps that have very high security requirements, even if those are running on other blockchains, they can still deploy the security features provided by the CertiK Chain with our cross-chain technique,” said Gu. 

The company is also in a financially strong position to realize its vision. Besides the venture funding it received last year, the company also conducted a private token sale, raising an undisclosed amount. In addition, its security auditing business is already profitable, a rare scene in the overall startup world, especially for a company in the testnet stage of its blockchain project. 

“Those services [security auditing] are valuable and terrific, and the CertiK Chain is able to really give that ability out to programmers at scale from the ground up,” said the CertiK Foundation Head of Marketing Lev Novak.

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