What is NuCypher? (NU)
The Beginner’s Guide
NuCypher enables developers to store, share, and manage private data and aims to add an interoperable security layer to various blockchains where developers can grant permission to sensitive information on a number of dapps.
The platform offers two main services:
- Secrets Management – stores sensitive data, including passwords and private keys
- Dynamic Access Control – conditionally grants and revokes access to sensitive data
The network's native cryptocurrency, NU, is used to incentivize nodes that perform encryption services for users.
For more regular updates from the NuCypher team, you can check out the NuCypher blog, where they post project updates and research on their developing technology.
Who Created NuCypher?
NuCypher was founded in 2015 in San Francisco by MacLane Wilkison and Michael Egorov to assist users in securely transacting data with cloud providers. The NuCypher team pivoted in 2017 to apply their technology to smart contracts.
NuCypher has been funded through both a private seed round, where they raised $750 thousand, and Simple Agreement for Future Token (SAFT) pre-sales, where they raised over $15 million over two sales. The NuCypher platform officially launched in October 2020.
While the NuCypher Corporation helped guide NuCypher through its developmental phases, the project transferred power to a software-based system controlled by its users called the NuCypher Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) in June 2020.
How Does NuCypher Work?
NuCypher provides cryptographic services to several protocols by securely storing private data of public blockchains.
The platform offers a secrets management system and dynamic access control services through Umbral, its encryption scheme, and Ursula, a network of operating nodes.
Umbral and Ursulas
Umbral is NuCypher’s encryption scheme that allows users to both keep data private and share information in a secure way.
Data owners grant decryption rights to a data receiver in a process performed by “proxy” nodes, called Ursulas, who re-encrypt data for the recipients. (Of note, proxies don’t have access to the underlying data or unlocking keys, they are simply applying further conditions that must be met to unlock the data.)
Ursulas are required to stake NU to perform their network duties and earn newly minted NU tokens. Nodes may lose part or all of their staked NU if they perform incorrect re-encryption or have significant downtime.
In addition to NU rewards, Ursula nodes are also rewarded in ETH transaction fees for providing NuCypher’s security and privacy services to applications hosted on the underlying Ethereum network.
Why does NU have value?
The NU cryptocurrency plays a key role in maintaining and operating NuCypher’s network, and can be used for holding, sending, or staking.
By owning and staking NU, users gain the ability to operate a NuCypher Ursula node and to participate in NuCypher’s DAO and can vote on protocol upgrades, changes to fee rates, and adjustments to the DAO itself.
Further, as a second layer built on Ethereum, NuCypher’s NU tokens can be exchanged for other Ethereum network tokens, and can be used within Ethereum-based applications.
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Why use NU?
User’s may find NuCypher appealing based on its attempt to implement security and privacy schemes to public blockchain platforms.
The NuCypher network may also be interesting to smart contract developers that seek to withhold proprietary information or integrate privacy services within their decentralized applications.
Investors may also seek to buy NU and add it to their portfolio should they believe the market will one day favor privacy and data management services built for blockchain applications.