Throughout history, similar technologies have emerged at the same time to seek similar results but approach problems differently. Therefore, adopters should strive to look at each technology objectively as this market phenomenon arises.
Advances in cryptography have led to the creation of new security technologies that can be used to protect the privacy of data. Among them are zk-SNARK and zk-STARK. However, each of these technologies has benefits and limitations that should be considered when evaluating and selecting a security solution.
zk-SNARK is a type of zero-knowledge proof used to establish the truth of a claim without providing any information about the claim itself. zk-STARK is a more modern alternative to zk-SNARK that does not require “trusted setup”.
The features that distinguish zk-SNARKs from zk-STARKs will be discussed in this post. But before that, let’s first understand the concept of zero-knowledge proof technology.
What is zero knowledge verification technology?
Zero-knowledge proof technologies allow one person to prove to another that he or she knows something without the need to disclose that information. They are a privacy-improving technology because they reduce the amount of information that has to be made available between users. In addition, it is also a scaling technology as it allows proofs to be verified at a faster rate as they do not include the full amount of information for non-private systems.
Technically, Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP) is a cryptographic technique developed in the 1980s by MIT academics Shafi Goldwasser, Silvio Micali, and Charles Rackoff.
Zero-knowledge methods are probabilistic, which means they don’t establish something conclusively like just publishing all the information. Instead, they provide unlinkable data that can be used to demonstrate that a claim is valid.
Currently, a website accepts a user password as input and compares it with the stored hash. When ZKP is used, the verifier cannot determine the client’s password, but the credentials can still be authenticated.
Features of Zero-Knowledge Proof
If the assertion is true, the verifier will have no opinion. In this case, the statement can be an absolute value or an algorithm.
If the claim is true, an honest verifier will eventually be convinced.
If the proverb is not truthful, they will not be able to convince the verifier that the evidence is well founded.
Zk-STARKs and zk-SNARKs are two of the most promising zero-knowledge technologies on the market today. Zk-STARK means zero-scalable transparent knowledge argument, while zk-SNARK stands for zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive knowledge argument. This post will examine the key differences between these two zero-knowledge technologies, both culturally and technically. Furthermore, both of these zero-knowledge methods are non-interactive, implying that the code can be deployed and run independently.
What is Zk-SNARKS?
Alessandro Chiesa, a UC Berkeley professor, co-author of a paper in January 2012, first used the term zk-SNARK to describe the zero-knowledge proofs they produced . At its core, Zk-SNARKs rely on elliptic curves for security. However, in cryptography, elliptic curves are used with the assumption that it is impossible to determine the discrete logarithm of a random elliptic curve element relative to a publicly known base point.
While there is controversy about whether elliptic curve random number generators have a backdoor, the technique is generally safe. While there are many common weaknesses in side-channel attacks, they can all be effectively handled in a variety of ways.
Quantum attacks threaten to encrypt an elliptic curve, but the quantum computation needed to breach its security model is often inaccessible.
Zk-SNARK requires a reliable setup in addition to being based on elliptic curves. The initial generation of the keys needed to generate the necessary proofs for private transactions, as well as verify those proofs, is known as trusted establishment. When such keys are initially established, a secret parameter is associated between the verification key and the keys that transmit private transactions.
Assume the secrets used to construct these keys in the trusted setup event are not compromised. In that case, they can be used to execute transactions via pseudo-verification, allowing holders to do things like produce new tokens from thin air and use them in futures transactions. Translate. But, of course, there will be no method of verifying that tokens generated from thin air really exist due to the privacy properties of zk-SNARK. Having said that, a reliable setup is only needed at first.
Therefore, users of SNARK-based networks must believe that the trusted setup has been completed correctly, which implies that the secrets associated with the trusted setup key have been destroyed and are no longer in the possession of the trusted setup key. owned by those who watched the ceremony. The reliance on a reliable establishment is one of the main grounds of contention among SNARK critics. On the other hand, developers should only use the trusted setup once.
Another major problem associated with SNARKs is that they are not quantum resistant. The underlying security engineering for SNARK will be compromised if quantum computing becomes widely available. SNARK defenders have correctly pointed out that we will face much larger obstacles when quantum computers are deployed, such as breaking RSA and most wallet infrastructure.
Despite the challenges with a reliable setup, SNARK was accepted at a much faster rate than STARK for a variety of reasons. Years before STARK was found, SNARK was discovered, giving the technology a huge head start in terms of adoption. One of the first digital asset initiatives, Zcash, promoted the use of SNARK among blockchain developers.
Thanks to Zcash and other early adopters, SNARKs has the most developer libraries, published code, projects and developers actively working on this technology. SNARK is used by the emerging DEX Loopring outside of Zcash. If a developer wants to start using zero-knowledge technology, SNARK will be more supported than STARK.
Furthermore, SNARK is predicted to require only 24% of the gas required by STARK, meaning that trading in SNARK will be significantly less expensive for end users. Finally, SNARK has a significantly smaller proof size than STARK, requiring less on-chain storage.
What are Zk-STARKs?
While SNARK has certain advantages over STARK in terms of documentation and developer support, STARK also has some advantages. But first, let’s look at what STARK is from a technical conceptual perspective.
Eli Ben-Sasson, Iddo Bentov, Yinon Horeshy and Michael Riabzev released the first STARK publications in 2018. Unlike SNARK, the core mechanism of STARKs is based on hash functions. Using hash functions offers many immediate advantages, such as quantum resistance. Furthermore, no trusted setup is required to start using STARK in the network.
On the other hand, STARK has a much larger proof size than SNARK, which implies that STARK validation takes longer and requires more gas than SNARK.
Furthermore, due to the lack of developer and community documentation, developers will find it much more difficult to use STARKs. While some projects like STARKWARE are developing scaling solutions based on STARK, the community of SNARKs is still much larger.
zk-STARKs vs. zk-SNARKs: Summary
The fact that zk-SNARK requires elliptic curve cryptography while zk-STARK does not is a significant difference between the two forms of proof. Elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) is a type of encryption technology that generates secure cryptographic keys using the properties of elliptic curves. This is a popular choice for online security because these keys can be used to encrypt and decrypt data.
ECC is more secure than other forms of encryption, such as RSA, and is more resistant to brute-force attacks, which are becoming more common in today’s world.
Another difference between zk-SNARK and zk-STARK is that zk-SNARK requires the use of a trusted setup. This implies that the original keys used to construct the proofs must have been generated by someone. In contrast, zk-STARK requires no trusted setup.
Currently, zk-SNARK is more popular than zk-STARK. This is because zk-SNARK has been around for longer and is easier to use. Instead of elliptical curves, which are harder to break and require reliable setup, STARK uses hash functions. STARK, on the other hand, has a higher proof size, which means proof validation takes longer and consumes more gas.
While both the SNARK and STARK development communities have embraced them, the Ethereum Foundation is abuzz about STARKware, which uses Starks. Indeed, the Ethereum Foundation awarded STARKware a $12 million grant, demonstrating their commitment to the new technology.
Furthermore, while the STARK documentation is lacking compared to the SNARK documentation, the engineering community has recently created a more comprehensive collection of resources for those interested in implementing cutting-edge technology.
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