Swisscom Blockchain Wins Grant From Web3 to Help Toughen Polkadot’s Proof-of-Stake Network

10 September 2020

Swisscom Blockchain, a distributed ledger technology startup owned by telco giant Swisscom, has been awarded a grant from the Web3 Foundation to build a cloud-based protection layer for stakers on the Polkadot network.

Announced Thursday, the grant will help build Swisscom Blockchain’s Kubernetes Operator for Polkadot, a way of protecting participants involved in proof-of-stake processes on Polkadot and the Kusama testnet against losing their staked tokens if the network is attacked or compromised. 

Something like a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS), for instance, leads to downtime and can mean a validator blockchain node can have its stake slashed. Preventing this is tricky – hence the need for a system of cloud-based “containers” and “sentry nodes,” which can isolate validators while maintaining node connections. 

The size of the grant was not disclosed. A spokesman for Web3 Foundation said that grant teams are allowed to apply in private via a General Grants Program

“The Web3 grant was awarded to contribute to the Polkadot ecosystem by submitting an open-source repository that other startups and enterprises can use to setup/manage their own infrastructure in an automated way while providing security best practices for resources hosted in the enterprise,” Jorge Alvarado, Swisscom Blockchain’s head of technology, said via email.

Read more: Developers Eye Mid-September for Ethereum, Polkadot Bridge Proof-of-Concept

“This source code is supposed to be run on the infrastructure of choice of the user, not necessarily Swisscom or any other cloud provider,” Alvarado added.

“Providing Kusama and Polkadot with a Kubernetes Operator contributes to a more robust network,” Dieter Fishbein, head of ecosystem development at the Web3 Foundation, said in a statement. It will help validators “ensure high availability in their operations, and reduce the chances of validators getting slashed for unresponsiveness,” he said.

Polkadot, an interoperability protocol between blockchains, is the flagship project of the Web3 Foundation and Parity Technologies, both established by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood. 

“The project Swisscom Blockchain developed is a set of tools to deploy validators and ensure their high availability,” said Fishbein. “This work ultimately makes it easier for enterprises to engage with the Polkadot ecosystem.”

The project has been tested and deployed on the Azure Cloud platform, he added, but it “aims to be platform-agnostic.”

Correction (Sept. 10, 13:09 UTC): An earlier version of this story mistakenly described Polkadot as “Ethereum-based.”

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