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Network Permissioning

Network Permissioning

Network Permissioning is a feature that controls which nodes can connect to a given node and also to which nodes the given node can dial out to. Currently, it is managed at the individual node level by the --permissioned command line flag when starting the node.

If the --permissioned flag is set, the node looks for a file named <data-dir>/permissioned-nodes.json . This file contains the whitelist of enodes that this node can connect to and accept connections from. Therefore, with permissioning enabled, only the nodes that are listed in the permissioned-nodes.json file become part of the network. If the --permissioned flag is specified but no nodes are added to the permissioned-nodes.json file then this node can neither connect to any node nor accept any incoming connections.

The permissioned-nodes.json file follows the below pattern, which is similar to the <data-dir>/static-nodes.json file that is used to specify the list of static nodes a given node always connects to:

     "enode://[email protected]:port1",
     "enode://[email protected]:port2",
     "enode://[email protected]:port3", 

Sample file: (node id truncated for clarity)

   "enode://[email protected]",


In the current implementation, every node has its own copy of the permissioned-nodes.json file. In this case, if different nodes have a different list of remote keys then each node may have a different list of permissioned nodes - which may have an adverse effect. In a future release, the permissioned nodes list will be moved from the permissioned-nodes.json file to a Smart Contract, thereby ensuring that all nodes will use one global on-chain list to verify network connections.

Enclave Encryption Technique

The Enclave encrypts payloads sent to it by the Transaction Manager using xsalsa20poly1305 (payload container) and curve25519xsalsa20poly1305 (recipient box). Each payload encryption produces a payload container, as well as N recipient boxes, where N is the number of recipients specified in the privateFor param of the Transaction.

  • A payload container contains the payload encrypted with a symmetric key and a random nonce
  • A recipient box is the Master Key for the payload container encrypted for the public key of a recipient using a random nonce. (Note that this is basically how PGP works, but using the NaCl cryptographic primitives.)

We currently manually define all public key whitelists, and don’t do automatic rotation of keys, however the system was built to support rotation trivially, by allowing counterparties to advertise multiple keys at once. The tooling to make it seamless and automatic is on the our Roadmap. We also do not currently have a PKI system, but simply randomly generate keys that are manually added to whitelists (e.g. a registry of authorized counterparties on the blockchain.) The process is currently for operators to generate a keypair and then add the public keys to the whitelists manually.

Private Key Storage Algorithm

The following steps detail the technique used to manage the private keys:

  1. Given a password P
  2. Generate random Argon2i nonce
  3. Generate random NaCl secretbox nonce
  4. Stretch P using Argon2i (and the Argon2i nonce) into a 32-byte master key (MK)
  5. Encrypt Private key in secretbox using secretbox nonce and Argon2i-stretched MK