A crucial improvement has been made to the Ethereum system. The =nil; Foundation, a zero-knowledge technology specialist, has launched a new variant type-1 zero-knowledge Ethereum Virtual Machine (zkEVM) compiler. This targets and tackles security issues found in different ZK-driven Ethereum scaling solutions.
Future-Proofing Ethereum with =nil; Foundation’s Innovation
In an exclusive interview, the CEO and co-founder of the Foundation, Misha Komarov, brought out their paramount focus on security in their technology. As such, the newly developed compiler will enable the automatic compilation of high-level programming code into Zero-Knowledge Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge (zk-SNARKS) circuits.
Furthermore, the zkEVM, derived from the C++ work, emulates Ethereum’s base execution environment to be rendered compatible across the Ethereum network. Innovation in processing application code for subsequent compilation into proofs submitted to Ethereum in a format emulating its EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine).
This compatibility enhances security and streamlines implementation, eliminating the need for protracted and costly code audits. Furthermore, it plays an enforcement role in enabling the compatibility of transactions and smart contracts to the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
In 2023, some high-profile zkEVM solutions have appeared to enhance Ethereum’s work with large volumes of transactions and the smart contract’s functionality. Companies such as Consensys, Polygon, StarkWare, and Matter Labs have deployed ZK-rollup solutions, allowing DApp and network users to achieve high throughput and low fee capabilities.
Moreover, Komarov said =nil; Foundation’s approach differs from the current zkEVMs because it uses an automated compiler. It contrasts with its current methods using manual circuit definition. He noted that the nature of the existing approaches was too time-intensive and overly complex, calling out room for human error.
The discovered soundness bug in the Matter Labs’ zkSync Era mainnet indicates the vulnerability of manually defined circuits. In September 2023, ChainLight also received a coin reward of USD 50,000 for the bug they found concerning that security. A bug permitted the generalization of misleading proofs on the Ethereum mainnet, tricking the smart contract verifier into accepting inaccurately executed blocks. Additionally, Matter Labs swiftly deployed a fix and rewarded ChainLight with a bug bounty.
Automated Compiler Enhances Ethereum zkEVM Security
Komarov discussed security concerns in manual circuit creation. He mentioned Vitalik Buterin’s worries about potential issues like circuit breakage. We started digging into it. The problem became obvious that these circuits are written manually.”
EinX=nil: The Foundation’s automated compiler, developed over the past two years, seeks to attenuate concerns. It achieves this by keeping its parallels close to Ethereum’s original implementation. Komarov highlighted that this approach makes code auditing significantly more manageable. He pointed to the zkSync bug as an example of the potential pitfalls of circuits defined manually.
The automated design of =nil; Foundation’s solution accommodates EVM changes, ensuring a “future-proof” zkEVM compiler. Furthermore, this allows for seamless integration of the latest Ethereum Improvement Proposals. This feature eliminates the need for substantial resources and time for upgrades.
On December 12, the Foundation took a significant step forward by publishing its prototype code repository and specifications. This marks a crucial milestone for Ethereum’s zero-knowledge-proof ecosystem. This move aims to enhance transparency and foster collaboration in fortifying the platform’s security infrastructure.
Related Reading | FTX Warns IRS Tax Bill Poses Threat to Creditors’ Recovery Prospects’