Paper 2021/133

smartFHE: Privacy-Preserving Smart Contracts from Fully Homomorphic Encryption

Ravital Solomon, Sunscreen
Rick Weber, Sunscreen
Ghada Almashaqbeh, University of Connecticut

Despite the great potential and flexibility of smart contract-enabled blockchains, building privacy-preserving applications using these platforms remains an open question. Existing solutions fall short since they ask end users to coordinate and perform the computation off-chain themselves. While such an approach reduces the burden of the miners of the system, it largely limits the ability of lightweight users to enjoy privacy since performing the actual computation on their own and attesting to its correctness is expensive even with state-of-the-art proof systems. To address this limitation, we propose smartFHE, a framework to support private smart contracts using fully homomorphic encryption (FHE). To the best of our knowledge, smartFHE is the first to use FHE in the blockchain model; moreover, it is the first to support arbitrary privacy-preserving applications for lightweight users under the same computation-on-demand model pioneered by Ethereum. smartFHE does not overload the user since miners are instead responsible for performing the private computation. This is achieved by employing FHE so miners can compute over encrypted data and account balances. Users are only responsible for proving well-formedness of their private inputs using efficient zero-knowledge proof systems (ZKPs). We formulate a notion for a privacy-preserving smart contract (PPSC) scheme and show a concrete instantiation of our smartFHE framework. We address challenges resulting from using FHE in the blockchain setting---including concurrency and dealing with leveled schemes. We also show how to choose suitable FHE and ZKP schemes to instantiate our framework, since naively choosing these will lead to poor performance in practice. We formally prove correctness and security of our construction. Finally, we conduct experiments to evaluate its efficiency, including comparisons with a state-of-the-art scheme and testing several private smart contract applications. We have open-sourced our (highly optimized) ZKP library, which could be of independent interest.

Available format(s)
Cryptographic protocols
Publication info
Published elsewhere. EuroS&P 2023
Blockchain modelprivate smart contractsfully homomorphic encryptionzero knowledge proofs
Contact author(s)
ravital @ sunscreen tech
rick @ sunscreen tech
ghada @ uconn edu
2023-06-29: last of 7 revisions
2021-02-10: received
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      author = {Ravital Solomon and Rick Weber and Ghada Almashaqbeh},
      title = {smartFHE: Privacy-Preserving Smart Contracts from Fully Homomorphic Encryption},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/133},
      year = {2021},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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