Microsoft is very proud of its Azure Blockchain-powered smart contract auditing tools for Ethereum – so much so it decided to flaunt some of the benefits of the software in a new blog post.
“One of the key drivers making blockchain-based applications programmable, accessible to enterprise customers, and able to meet the diverse needs of a variety of sectors [are smart contracts],” the post reads. “They foster trust in adversarial environments, but also make it challenging to secure compared to traditional code.”
But worry no more, the software Goliath believes it has the solution to this quandary: Verifier for Solidity (for those out of the loop, Solidity is a programming language specifically developed for Ethereum) – or VeriSol for short. The tool, which pairs with Azure’s blockchain suite, purportedly streamlines the code auditing process with automated security checks.
“VeriSol allows us to iterate more quickly because of the automatic and continuous checking, and it allows us to catch bugs faster without having to worry about potentially affecting customers,” said Azure Blockchain engineer Cody Born.
IT professionals have often downplayed the effectiveness of automated security checks, but Microsoft insists there are several reasons why smart contracts are an exception to this rule.
“The modest code size and the sequential execution semantics of smart contracts make them amenable to scalable verification, and the open operating environment substantially reduces the need to manually model the environment in which a smart contract operates,” said Microsoft principal researcher Shuvendu Lahiri.
“The use of formal verification for production software requires individuals skilled in highly specialized formal languages and tools, which imposes on development teams a steep learning cost and often several person-years of investment to break down the highly sophisticated task of verification into those that can be discharged mechanically by the verification tools,” he continued.
Microsoft is quick to point out that VeriSol, which was first unveiled in April 2019, is still in a prototype phase. Still, its research team is pretty bullish on the future of the software.
“We envision empowering not just Azure Blockchain developers and customers, but contributing to a full blockchain ecosystem that is safer and helping people realize the full potential of the technology without being plagued by the costly mistakes in smart contracts,” Lahiri said.
Those interested in a more technical breakdown of VeriSol can check it out on GitHub – it’s all open source.
Microsoft might be a bit too enthusiastic about blockchain
Curiously, Microsoft cites research by consulting firm Gartner, which suggests blockchain tech can bring businesses added value upwards of $360 billion by 2026.
Coincidentally, it makes no mention of another recent report by Gartner which speculates that 90 percent of enterprise-grade blockchains will soon be obsolete – unless they roll out significant upgrades by 2021.
Speaking of enterprise distributed ledger tech, Microsoft has been dipping its fingers all over the decentralized software market. It has developed a number of software suites for building decentralized tech, like its cloud-based blockchain development kit, Visual Studio for Ethereum dapps, and a decentralized digital identity management system.
So far, the Redmond giant has provided blockchain solutions to a bevy of high-profile firms, including banking behemoth JP Morgan Chase, EY, and Nasdaq. The Bill Gates-founded company even helped Louis Vuitton put its overpriced rags on the blockchain recently.
Say what you will, but for a company that blocked nearly 5 million cryptocurrency-related ads in 2018, Microsoft is really not shying away from blockchain. Guess we can add the Windows-maker to the growing list of corporates ruling by the “blockchain, not Bitcoin” mantra.
Published June 4, 2019 — 09:53 UTC