Launching Secret Network’s Mainnet Upgrade “Vulcan” — A Preview

It’s an exciting time to be part of the Secret Network. Fifty-six days of hard work from a variety of Secret Network contributors have led us to where we are today — ready for secret contracts to be launched on mainnet with upgrade “Vulcan”.

The groundwork for Vulcan began with stress testing during the Secret Games: Testnet Phase 1 that launched July 20th and Testnet Phase 2 in early August. We are on the verge of a network upgrade that will allow for the implementation of Secret Contracts on the mainnet of the Secret Network, a goal that was birthed in 2015 with the vision of a Decentralized Computation Platform with Guaranteed Privacy.

The intense verification and public nature of the blockchain limits potential use cases, however. Modern applications use huge amounts of data, and run extensive analysis on that data. This restriction means that only fiduciary code can run on the blockchain [7]. The problem is, much of the most sensitive parts of modern applications require heavy processing on private data. In their current design, blockchains cannot handle privacy at all. Furthermore, they are not well-suited for heavy computations. Their public nature means private data would flow through every full node on the blockchain, fully exposed.

And thus the Secret Network has been created. To solve this problem. To bring privacy to the blockchain space — securing computations and enabling a whole host of use cases that we can only begin to imagine. Padlock is an excellent example in recent history of what Secret Contracts can do.

That is what the launch of Vulcan is — it signals the beginning of a new era for privacy applications and privacy attribute inclusion in the blockchain space.

Before we examine the details of the launch of Vulcan let us quickly examine what has been accomplished in 56 days between beginning of the testnet phase 1 on July 20th and the launch of Vulcan.

During testnet phase 1, node operators worked together to stress-test secret contract functionality on Secret Network. Operators set up their own “secret nodes” and received rewards for successfully completing node-related missions. These operators were supported and joined by existing validators on the Secret Network mainnet, including the Enigma MPC team, Chain of Secrets, Secretnodes.org, and others. The Secret Foundation also provided active guidance and communication between a variety of parties. Invited testnet phase 1 participants were as follows: Binance, Staked, Figment, Dokia Capital, Chorus One, Iqlusion, Outlier Ventures, Fenbushi, MathWallet, Chainflow, Hashquark, B-Harvest, Protofire, LunaNova, and Mitera BV.

During this phase, there was an open invitation to any and all validators. Over 80+ validators joined the public testnet, with approximately 65 validators active towards the end of the testnet. Average block time during the public testnet was 5.93 seconds — a number that will hopefully decrease with more research. During this phase there were applications used for continued stress testing of the network (such as Secret Hold ‘Em). In addition, there were other SCRT bounties offered. The Secret Foundation Committees also became significantly more active during this phase. Perhaps most noticeable was the amazing amount of activity and collaboration within the Infrastructure Committee with identifying a range of hardware that would be compatible with SGX and mainnet for this upcoming launch.

Vulcan

Returning to where we stand today, the upgrade for the network is from the “secret-1” chain to “secret-2”, resetting the block height to 0. The secret-1 chain was established during the Romulus Upgrade of the Secret Network that took place Wednesday, June 17th at block height 1,794,500. The current upgrade will be the first time mainnet has been upgraded since the Romulus Upgrade.

The launch of Vulcan on September 15th, 2020 will occur at 14:00:00 UTC. For those of you looking for more familiar time zones than UTC, 14:00:00 UTC is 9:00 am CST, 10:00 am EST, and 7:00 am PST.

Why 14:00:00 UTC?

“…it’s early morning in the US and late evening in Asia (11pm in Korea, for example), so there’s really no perfect time for this [Vulcan]…”

News of this specific time was shared by Assaf of Enigma MPC in the mainnet validator chat on RocketChat, August 30th at 5:49 pm CST. According to Assaf, the entire upgrade process should only take a couple of minutes if a validator has taken all the necessary steps in advance. Evidently, this entire process has been automated by the Enigma team:

“…we’ve automated the entire process of exporting `secret-1` to be the `genesis.json` of `secret-2`. So if we start the export at 2020–09–15 14:00:00 UTC I expect the new chain will be up and running a few minutes later (+ copying files, updating the docs with addresses, links and node IDs).”

The steps for upgrading a node can be found at the following link. The process of upgrading for validators is similar to joining the testnet with the small caveat of needing to transfer private keys to the new SGX compatible nodes. Note that mainnet hardware requirements are significantly more expensive and intensive than testnet — a paradigm that will most likely increase the commission rate all validators charge their respective delegators. This is due to the requirement of having an SGX-enabled computer or an SGX-enabled cloud operator. Requirements of SGX-compatible hardware can be found at the following link.

The launch of Vulcan and the secret-2 chain will utilize CosmWasm v0.10 as well as the most recent version of Tendermint post launch. All of these changes utilize existing tools to make the Secret Network even more flexible for developer utilization.

Finally, and perhaps the most integral part of Vulcan, is the inclusion of a Secret Foundation Tax. According to the Secret Foundation the goal of the foundation is to:

“…advance privacy as a public good, empowering people by providing the tools, technologies, education, and support necessary to preserve their freedom… This will require a balance of communicative collaboration and decisive action, enabling “Secret Agents” to collectively pursue a common goal: meaningful adoption of privacy-first applications built on Secret Network…”

In order to do this, the foundation needs to be sustainable. This is made possible by establishing a community pool of resources that the Secret Foundation can use (leveraging the Secret Network’s governance protocol when needed) to distribute SCRT and assistance to projects that directly further the growth of the entire Secret Network ecosystem. The tax rate would be 15% of block rewards in perpetuity as per proposal #18 — a number that can be modified in the future through governance.

It is an exciting time for privacy, and the Secret Network ecosystem continues to push forward. Privacy is coming to blockchains through Secret Contracts.

The Vulcan upgrade on September 15th is a monumental step forward.

One could say, the Secret is out…

Secret Network github page: https://github.com/enigmampc/SecretNetwork

If you would like to contact Secure Secrets, the creators of this piece of content, please reach out to Carter Woetzel or Mohammed Patla on Telegram. Special shout-out to Assaf from Enigma MPC for assisting in the creation of this article.

Website: https://www.securesecrets.network/

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/securesecrets

Secure Secrets Validator Node Address: secretvaloper1rfnmcuwzf3zn7r025j9zr3ncc7mt9ge56l7se7

Author of “Building Confidence in Blockchain — Investing In Cryptocurrency and a Decentralized Future”