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Hyperledger Aries

Strengthening Hyperledger Indy and Self-Sovereign Identity

By | Blog, Hyperledger Aries, Hyperledger Indy

After working on the problem of identity online for more years than we care to admit, it is heartening to see that we are not alone: The identity community we’ve longed to see is here, and it’s transforming the world. In the months since Hyperledger Indy graduated to ‘production ready’ active status, we’ve seen an outpouring of digital identity business solutions come to market. 

These accomplishments are due, in part, to the growth and maturity of the Hyperledger Indy code; but, equally, they wouldn’t have happened without a collaborative community of dedicated contributors passionate about changing the way identity works online. And their outstanding  work is not going unnoticed by the wider technology community: self-sovereign identity (SSI) has gone from “interesting idea” to “this looks promising” to “we need to implement this now.” 

The Time for SSI Has Come

Forrester’s recent “Top Recommendations for Your Security Program, 2019,” testifies to this, describing SSI as a “win” for customers and businesses, and urged chief information security officers  (CISO) to “Empower your customers to control their own identities via self-sovereign identity.”

They can do this because exchanging verifiable digital credentials is at the heart of SSI. This ends the need for massive data silos, honeypots, and unsecured data repositories housed at countless corporations and organizations. Instead, anyone can hold secure and verifiable information about themselves, and through Zero-Knowledge Proofs (ZKP), minimize the information they  decide to share with others. (ZKPs are an important type of advanced privacy-preserving cryptography now available in the open source community within the recently announced Hyperledger Aries project).

This doesn’t just benefit consumers in terms of information sharing, businesses also get to avoid GDPR and regulatory compliance issues and benefit from much better security. Moreover, we’re finally starting to see the big tech companies come to the realization that the status quo isn’t working when it comes to data collection, and sooner or later, it will affect their bottom line. SSI is the disruptive technology that the industry has been waiting for.

The Indy and Aries communities are driving this disruption in privacy and personal data by designing and building the protocols, technologies, and code that makes SSI possible. But moving beyond the code and building real solutions will require new companies. Like the Web 20 years ago, most of these will be startups who have a vision for this new way of interacting online.

Nurturing the Digital Identity Community

This is why we’re excited to be supporting the valuable work of the SSI community with the launch of the Self-Sovereign Identity Incubator.

Designed to help organizations and companies learn how to use code from Hyperledger Indy to create verifiable credential exchange products and SSI solutions, this intensive 12-week program based in San Francisco will be a bootcamp for identity entrepreneurs and start-ups. It also gives participating companies $180,000 in investment and the comprehensive hands-on technical support and mentoring they need to realize their business ideas and bring their products to market. 

At a point where SSI is reaching critical mass, we want to see the identity community grow bigger and stronger and build the products that take SSI to the masses. As Sovrin Foundation Executive Director and CEO Heather Dahl recently noted  at the New Context Conference in Tokyo, an event founded in 2005 by Digital Garage co-founder and Director of MIT Media Lab, Joi Ito,  “Self-sovereign identity is the next disruptive innovation; it changes the very nature of how people connect with the companies and services that they rely upon online.” 

It’s great to see the SSI Incubator already receiving its first batch of applications, with many from the same Hyperledger community Sovrin first worked with to donate the source code to Hyperledger Indy. These are the same members who we see contributing and maintaining the code repositories for Hyperledger Indy and Aries today,

These products are poised to transform the fundamental way the Internet runs and the way we will use it to the benefit of everyone. With our years of experience and depth of knowledge about digital identity, supporting this community and these projects is not just something interesting for us to do in our spare time. It is our job as leaders in technology and identity to support, educate, and most importantly, fund the projects, that will change the future of identity forever.

About the authors

Greg Kidd is the Founding Partner of Hard Yaka, a fund investing in portable identity, payments and marketplaces necessary for digital transformation. He has invested in more than 100 startups, including Twitter, Square and Ripple.

Dr. Phil Windley is chair of the Sovrin Foundation and the co-founder and organizer of the Internet Identity Workshop. He is a passionate technology educator and is the author of the books The Live Web and Digital Identity. 

Hyperledger Welcomes Diverse Line-up of New Members, New Identity Project

By | Announcements, Hyperledger Aries, News

Adds Eight New Members, including Ethereum Foundation, Microsoft, Nornickel and Salesforce, to Open Source Community Building Blockchain for Business

SAN FRANCISCO (June 18, 2019) Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies, today announced a diverse line-up of eight new members, including Ethereum Foundation, Microsoft, Nornickel and Salesforce.  Hyperledger also added a new identity infrastructure project that spotlights interoperability, cross project development and broad community involvement.

Hyperledger is a multi-venture, multi-stakeholder effort hosted at the Linux Foundation that includes various enterprise blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. With the recent launch of Hyperledger Aries, there are now a total 13 projects in the Hyperledger greenhouse. Ongoing efforts to continue fostering community development also drove the introduction of a sixth special interest group (SIG) focused on the supply chain industry as well as the kick off of the intensive, hands-on 2019 Summer Mentorship program.

“Our new members illustrate the breadth of organizations that see the value of contributing to the Hyperledger community,” said Brian Behlendorf, Executive Director, Hyperledger. “The mix of blue chip technology companies, international organizations, logistics and manufacturing players and academia that have joined us from point around the world show the widespread interest and investment in open source enterprise blockchain technologies. This broad-based involvement is what drives our expanding portfolio of open source projects, which are fully conceived, developed and advanced by the ever-growing Hyperledger community.”

Hyperledger allows organizations to create solid, industry-specific applications, platforms and hardware systems to support their individual business transactions by offering enterprise-grade, open source distributed ledger frameworks and code bases. The latest general members to join the community are Gloscad, Microsoft, Milligan Partners, Nornickel and Salesforce.

Hyperledger supports an open community that values contributions and participation from various entities. As such, pre-approved non-profits, open source projects and government entities can join Hyperledger at no cost as associate members. Associate members joining this month include China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), Ethereum Foundation and GS1 US.

These organizations and our other members will be joining us in Tokyo at the end of July for our annual Member Summit.

New member quotes:

Gloscad

“In a world where everything is connected, where transactions and information are instantly delivered and processed around the world, it is now crucial to adapt our rules of conduct – from analysis, preparation, production to consumption,” said Criss Boukoulou, CEO and co-founder of Gloscad. “Our main goal is to provide sustainable solutions to the most basic human needs. Hyperledger offers an opportunity to reinvent the agricultural model by building trust on human level. As a general member, we look forward to contributing to this new ecosystem.”

Microsoft

“Our journey in the blockchain ecosystem has brought us a long way, and now is the time for us to join the Hyperledger community,” said Marley Gray, Principal Architect, Blockchain Engineering at Microsoft. “We are proud of our contributions to such a diverse blockchain ecosystem, from our Azure service offerings and developer toolkits to our leadership in driving open specifications. We look forward to contributing to the community’s projects as well as initiating new ones based on emerging standards.”

Milligan Partners

“Joining Hyperledger is tremendously valuable to us as we develop blockchain solutions for Mobility as a Service,” said Matt Milligan, Managing Partner at Milligan Partners. “By working in this diverse open source community, we can be more creative and more innovative than we could ever be on our own. We’re thrilled to support and contribute to the Hyperledger community.”

Nornickel

“Hyperledger is our core technology. By joining Hyperledger, we plan to share our expertise and knowledge to improve blockchain technology,” said Sergey Batekhin, Senior Vice President — Sales, Procurement, and Innovation at Nornickel. “Our company has formed a considerable pool of ideas, concepts and initiatives that can be offered to other industry players. By joining the Hyperledger community, we are making our inventions accessible to interested parties around the world.”

Salesforce

“Blockchain is quickly becoming a foundational technology for organizations to deliver a truly connected customer experience,” said Adam Caplan, SVP, Emerging Technology, Salesforce. “Hyperledger has created a great blockchain community that we’re excited to learn from and be a part of.”

About Hyperledger

Hyperledger is an open source collaborative effort created to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. It is a global collaboration including leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chains, manufacturing and Technology. The Linux Foundation hosts Hyperledger under the foundation. To learn more, visit: https://www.hyperledger.org/.

Announcing Hyperledger Aries, infrastructure supporting interoperable identity solutions!

By | Blog, Hyperledger Aries

Identity is commonly cited as one of the most promising use-cases for distributed ledger technology. Initiatives and solutions focused on creating, transmitting and storing verifiable digital credentials will benefit from a shared, reusable, interoperable tool kit. Hyperledger Aries, the newest Hyperledger project (the13th!), is a shared infrastructure of tools that enables the exchange of blockchain-based data, supports peer-to-peer messaging in various scenarios, and facilitates interoperable interaction between different blockchains and other distributed ledger technologies (DLTs).

Hyperledger Aries intends to:

  • Provide code for peer-to-peer interaction, secrets management, verifiable information exchange, and secure messaging for different decentralized systems.
  • Foster practical interoperability in support of ongoing standards work and extend the applicability of technologies developed within Indy beyond its current community components from the Hyperledger stack into a single, effective business solution.

What is Aries?
Hyperledger Aries is infrastructure for blockchain-rooted, peer-to-peer interactions. It’s not a blockchain and it’s not an application.

It includes:

  • A blockchain interface layer (known as a resolver) for creating and signing blockchain transactions.
  • A cryptographic wallet for secure storage (the secure storage tech, not a UI) of cryptographic secrets and other information used to build blockchain clients.
  • An encrypted messaging system for off-ledger interactions between clients using multiple transport protocols.
  • An implementation of ZKP-capable W3C verifiable credentials using the ZKP primitives found in Ursa.
  • An implementation of the Decentralized Key Management System (DKMS) specification currently being incubated in Hyperledger Indy.
  • A mechanism to build higher-level protocols and API-like use cases based on the secure messaging functionality described earlier.

The generic interface of Aries will initially support the Hyperledger Indy resolver but is flexible enough so that someone could build a pluggable method using other DID method resolvers such as Hyperledger Fabric, Ethereum, or another DID method resolver they wish. These types of resolvers would support the resolving of transactions and other data on other ledgers.

Additionally, Hyperledger Aries will provide features and functionality outside of the scope of the Indy ledger to be planned and fully supported. We have reached out to other groups, including Ethereum-based decentralized identity efforts and others participating at the W3C to contribute to this code base.

With all of these capabilities, the open source community will now be able to build core message families that are necessary to facilitate interoperable interactions a wide variety of use cases involving blockchain-based identity.

Where did Aries come from?
Hyperledger Aries is related to both Hyperledger Indy, which provides a resolver implementation, and Hyperledger Ursa, which it uses for cryptographic functionality. Aries will consume the cryptographic support provided by Ursa to provide both secure secret management and hardware security modules support.

One of the main purposes of this project is to change the client layers in Hyperledger Indy to be interoperable with other identity projects. Hyperledger Indy has been incubating protocol work for peer interactions between identity owners for some time but as the development community has grown, it has become clear that the scope of that work extends beyond the functionality provided by Indy for support of other systems and networks.

With the main wallet and cryptographic code moving to its own project, it makes sense to move the pieces necessary to support that process with them in order to support a standards-driven approach and avoid cross dependencies between Indy and Aries.

What’s next for Aries?
The ultimate goal of Hyperledger Aries is to provide a dynamic set of capabilities to store and exchange data related to blockchain-based identity. These capabilities will range from the secured, secret storage of data such as private keys, up to the capability of globally accessible data that can be viewed and accessed by anyone. An example of such support is the creation of a secure storage solution similar to the wallet available in Hyperledger Indy today.

Other Aries functionality that would be in scope for a 1.0 project release would be a Decentralized Key Management Solution (DKMS) which would add key recovery, social recovery, and wallet backup and restore functionality. Using DKMS, clients will need a way to interact with one another peer to peer that is currently in development within Hyperledger Indy. Much of this work would be based on the DKMS documents outlined in the Indy-HIPE dkms design folder. This would be capable of storing verifiable credential data, private keys, relationship state data, and functionality that could perform operations with this data without having to extract this data.

We also hope to eventually have a scalable, searchable storage layer which is capable of storing other associated data necessary for identity maintenance. Examples of such data would be pictures, health records, or other personal information.

Who’s Involved?
The Sovrin Foundation has been the primary contributor to this initial initiative along with the team from the Government of British Columbia, but endorsements and possible contributions are in flight from several other organizations. Hyperledger has proven to be a collaborative and open environment for growing the community and has helped attract a variety of contributors. We are excited by the enthusiastic response from like-minded members of the community and look forward to collaborating further.

Want to Learn More?
If you’re interested in learning more about Aries, Indy, or Ursa, consider visiting https://wiki.hyperledger.org/display/HYP/Hyperledger+Aries+Proposal or #Aries on Hyperledger chat at https://chat.hyperledger.org/channel/aries

We welcome interest from all groups and organizations, including enterprises and standards organizations.  We are looking forward to hearing from you!