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Three Key Components Of Chainlink’s Security-First Architecture

In a new video, Chainlink co-founder Sergey Nazarov explained why Chainlink takes a security-first approach to building essential oracle infrastructure and outlined three key architectural decisions that established Cross-Chain Interoperability Protocol (CCIP) as the industry-standard blockchain abstraction layer for leading DeFi protocols, decentralized exchanges, and traditional financial institutions.

Superior Decentralization

“There are cross-chain systems that are basically multisigs of one, two, three sets of signers or keys; then there are cross-chain systems that are basically hubs where all transactions flow through one hub; and then there’s CCIP, which for every single lane has three oracle networks – not three nodes, but three individual, separate networks responsible for confirming three separate aspects of the transaction,” Nazarov said. “The amount of decentralization within CCIP, just by the amount of nodes independently verifying key parts of the transaction in a very focused way, is at a much higher level than any other bridge.”

Risk Management Network

CCIP achieves the highest level of cross-chain security and features a separate Risk Management Network that independently monitors cross-chain functions for suspicious activity. Nazarov explained how CCIP’s Risk Management Network allows developers to quickly adapt to new and emerging security risks by encoding policies, configurations, and conditions in response to individual threats. 

“So if a specific chain has a certain type of risk – it reorgs, there’s reliability issues, an adversary has invented a new attack – you have a place where you can go and you can write some code and encode those sets of risks and those sets of conditions separately from the core protocol,” he said. “You’re not changing the core protocol that provides the core security; you’re adding security by putting more conditions on what a transaction needs to meet in the Risk Management Network.”

Separate Code Bases

In addition to the Risk Management Network, CCIP comprises two core transactional decentralized oracle networks (DONs) – the committing DON and the executing DON. Nazarov explained the strategic decision to write CCIP’s core protocol and its Risk Management Network in distinct code bases.

“The core protocol is written in a completely separate code base, in a completely different language, initially written by a completely separate team from the team that wrote the Risk Management Network in its own codebase, in its own language,” he said.

“And this is a very significant difference, because even if you’re able to break one of those code bases because you know one language or you found one flaw, that flaw does not extend to the other code base. And so [CCIP is] really the only bridge in which you have a kind of client diversity and separate code bases interact with each other in a secure way.”

Security At Scale

He underscored the significance of this defense in depth approach to security, which has established Chainlink as the industry-standard decentralized computing platform, having enabled over $12 trillion in transaction value and providing a comprehensive set of services that are critical for creating and securing tokenized real-world assets and stablecoins capable of scaling onchain finance to billions of global users.

“Our goal is not just to transact and process the transactions and move the data of today, but it’s to do that for the whole world in the trillions of dollars – possibly at some point even reaching the size and amount of transaction value that you see in the traditional financial system, which is in the quadrillions per year. This is the size of security and complexity that we actually need to build for and that the community is successfully building for.”

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