FairBlock, start-up founded by recent master’s graduate Peyman Momeni, receives $400k USD equivalent funding from Cosmos

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

FairBlock, a start-up founded by recent master’s graduate Peyman Momeni, has received the equivalent of $400k USD funding from Cosmos, an ecosystem of apps and services that exchange digital assets and data using inter-blockchain communication protocols.

“FairBlock is a research and development team that applies cryptography to ensure the security and privacy of blockchain infrastructures,” Peyman said. “It all started with the research I conducted as part of my graduate studies, based on our published paper at the SecureComm 2022 conference with the help of my supervisor Professor Sergey Gorbunov and Bohan Zhang. FairBlock’s main focus is on building blockchain infrastructures and cryptographic libraries that prevent what are known as front-running, sandwiching attacks.”

“Blockchain front-running is a major problem that prevents fairness in blockchains,” said Professor Gorbunov. “It’s great to see Peyman and FairBlock getting industry recognition for this work.”

Sandwiching attacks manipulate the ordering of a transaction in a block such that a front-running transaction executes before a victim’s transaction. In other words, when an attacker observes a pending buy order, the attacker can buy an asset before the original trade and immediately sell it after the execution of the original trade, thereby profiting from a price increase. FairBlock applies an identity-based encryption to prevent front-running and it does so with minimal bandwidth overheads.

photo of Peyman Momeni in the Davis Centre

Peyman Momeni graduated with a master’s degree in computer science in July 2022. His thesis, titled “FairBlock: Preventing Blockchain Front-running with Minimal Overheads,” developed identity-based encryption to prevent front-running, a family of strategies in which a malicious party manipulates the order of transactions in a blockchain. This thesis was an extension of the published paper with the same title.

Peyman was advised by Cheriton School of Computer Science Professor Sergey Gorbunov, who builds systems and protocols that protect data and information in untrusted, distributed, and highly adversarial environments such as blockchains.

“With this grant and the subsequent pre-seed funding, we are growing the team and building a consumer chain in the Cosmos ecosystem to prevent front-running attacks in decentralized finance and enable on-chain time-lock encrypted messages for various applications such as cross-chain protocols, sealed voting and auction mechanisms,” Peyman said. “Moreover, our consumer chain will be an innovative use case of unique Cosmos functionalities such as interchain security, inter-blockchain communication, and scheduler.”

“We especially want to thank the Axelar team who believed in us and through its Axelar grant program helped bootstrap FairBlock from the very beginning. We learned many invaluable technical and business lessons through Axelar’s mentorship and support,” Peyman continued. “We have also been fortunate to be able to develop strong connections with dozens of bright Waterloo students who have collaborated in our research and development. The University of Waterloo and the tech ecosystem around it are great places to build a tech company, and we are proud to be part of it.”

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