Project T-TEE: From Trusted to Trustless Execution Environments

Recently, there’s been a lot of excitement around TEEs as a means to bolster security for applications in the “crypto”/blockchain space. TEEs in their current form can already add a lot of value to use cases by providing some guarantees where there were none before or adding collusion resistance to committee-based approaches.
However, current TEE’s were not designed with web3 use cases in mind and consequently leave much room for improvement. A group of researchers within Flashbots has set out to realise a TEE which more thoroughly enables the decentralised ethos and goals of the crypto industry. More specifically, such a new design would satisfy:

  • decentralised security model: current TEE security models completely fail if a single party (like the manufacturer) does not behave according to the specified protocol. There are no ways of verifying that current TEEs were constructed correctly and that key material is indeed private. Any manufacturer of sufficient sophistication should be able to produce the hardware (requiring open source designs) and the security of the TEE should not be vulnerable to the whims of any individual party. Essentially, we aim for a decentralised root of trust.
  • physical tamper resistance: TEE designs have seen a cat-and-mouse game over the last few years as vulnerabilities are found and patched. While this process represents progress, no suitable TEE (to the best of our knowledge) is resistant to the presence of a physical attacker. In order to remove trust in cloud providers, TEEs must provide guarantees against even physical attackers.

Note: these requirements are hard enough as they are. To make this easier we are willing to target more narrow use-cases like running the EVM. It’s not yet clear if this should be in our scope, but we could also make a call for this hardware design to be implemented in a way which make building the software layer of TEEs much easier (e.g. using a secure coprocessor).

We are certainly unable to complete this mission on our own and plan to rely heavily on security communities broadly. In order to do so, we are progressively moving the work in this direction into the open. Our first goal is to produce a position paper to communicate the problem and its importance to the broader hardware research community.

Please, let us know if you’d like to contribute in one way or another :slight_smile:

Relevant Pages

First and foremost, I highly recommend, Sylvain Bellemare from IC3’s living draft giving a more elaborate explanation of this line of thinking.

Other pages:


Hi Quintus,

This sounds great! I’m Julio, economic anthropologist and co-founder of the CirclesUBI project.

With Poetic Technologies ( we have been researching and doing work on delineating an architecture for what we are calling “autonomous TEEs”, arguing for open source software & hardware in enclave production. We recently won a grant by Plural Research to help us write it.

Sharing here an early draft (still a wip): Autonomous TEE Manifesto - - HedgeDoc

For reference, here’s a talk we gave at zuBerlin recently, to start socializing the idea:

We would be delighted to work together with y’all on such a position paper and in this tremendous undertaking moving forward.


Would love to contribute in whatever capacity I can. :slight_smile:

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Great! For now, we will try to keep posting updates on this forum. Ideally, we’ll have some open questions soon.

Any particular way you’d like to contribute?