SoK: TEE-Assisted Confidential Smart Contract

Authors: Rujia Li (Southern University of Science and Technology & University of Birmingham), Qin Wang (CSIRO Data61), Qi Wang (Southern University of Science and Technology), David Galindo (University of Birmingham), Mark Ryan (University of Birmingham)

Volume: 2022
Issue: 3
Pages: 711–731
DOI: https://doi.org/10.56553/popets-2022-0093

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Abstract: The blockchain-based smart contract lacks privacy, since the contract state and instruction code are exposed to the public. Combining smart-contract execution with Trusted Execution Environments provides an efficient solution, called TEE-assisted smart contracts (TCSC), for protecting the confidentiality of contract states. However, the combination approaches are varied, and a systematic study is absent. Newly released systems may fail to draw upon the experience learned from existing protocols, such as repeating known design mistakes or applying TEE technology in insecure ways. In this paper, we first investigate and categorize existing systems into two types: the layer-one solution and the layer-two solution. Then, we establish an analysis framework to capture their common aspects, covering desired properties (for contract services), threat models, and security considerations (for underlying systems). Based on our taxonomy, we identify their ideal functionalities, and uncover fundamental flaws and challenges in each specification’s design. We believe that this work would provide a guide for the development of TEE-assisted smart contracts, as well as a framework to evaluate future TCSC systems.

Keywords: Confidential Smart Contract, Blockchain, Trusted Execution Environment (TEE)

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