Thu, 22. Sep. 2022   Kremer, Birgit

ERC Starting Grant

Prof. Lucas Davi receives an ERC Starting Grant over 1.5 million euros. The project will develop a solution that holistically protects smart contracts from various attacks.

Smart contracts are computer programs that can be used to store the terms of a contract into a blockchain, where they can be executed automatically. The promising technology is being used in cryptocurrencies and is waiting in the wings in many industries: real estate transactions, licensing, checking supply chains or controlling production processes – many transactions and processes that today have to be done by hand could be automated and significantly accelerated in the future with programmed contracts.

However, smart contracts became an appealing attack target. The programs are permanently online. As soon as a vulnerability is discovered somewhere in the code, it can easily be exploited. In recent times, there have been several thefts of cryptocurrency, because smart contracts had security vulnerabilities that were not closed quickly enough. 

With the funds from the ERC Grant, we plan to develop the first solution for the protection of smart contracts that covers all development and deployment phases of a blockchain. A key element will be the first compiler for smart contracts that detects and automatically fixes programming errors already in the development phase. Attacks on ongoing transactions will be detected by means of a new monitoring tool and averted before they cause major damage. In addition, to assess the security of existing contracts and better understand the reasons for cyberattacks, we will develop novel forensic analysis techniques. 

ERC Starting Grants are funding instruments of the European Research Council (ERC), which are intended to support young scientists in making the career leap to independent top researchers. At the time of application, a maximum of seven years may have elapsed since the award of the doctoral degree. The sole evaluation criterion is the scientific excellence of the researcher and the proposed project. Further information: https://erc.europa.eu/funding/starting-grants