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Blog posts, Tech | 12/01/2023

Empowering Parachains with the new Polkadot app: The Secure Way Forward

The Polkadot ecosystem is about to take a giant leap forward with the development of a new Polkadot Ledger embedded application, a groundbreaking project driven by the collaboration of Alzymologist Oy and Zondax.

The Polkadot ecosystem is about to take a giant leap forward with the development of a new Polkadot Ledger embedded application, a groundbreaking project driven by the collaboration of Alzymologist Oy and Zondax described in this proposal. This initiative aims to create a robust, offline devices friendly, metadata protocol, and implement it in Ledger devices. This project will mark a significant milestone in enhancing the security and functionality of the entire Polkadot network.

Understanding the Challenge

Before we delve into the new Polkadot app, let’s grasp the challenge it addresses. While many blockchain systems support offline signing for air-gapped wallets and lightweight embedded devices, only a few allow full message decoding on the offline signer’s side. Polkadot, built on the Polkadot SDK, is one of these few, and it provides a solid foundation to elevate transaction security and network resilience. However, this comes with a set of challenges:

  1.  Large Metadata: A metadata entity, describing chain interfaces and properties, poses challenges for efficient transfer to cold storage devices due to its significant size.
  2. Metadata Authenticity: Ensuring the authenticity of metadata is challenging and often relies on trusted parties, which may create centralized points of failure.
The new Polkadot app Solution

The new Polkadot embedded app is a secure, hardware wallet application designed for Ledger devices. It’s versatile and capable of handling parachains and relay chains without being affected by runtime upgrades. The goal is to provide a single application for the entire Polkadot ecosystem without compromising security.

Key Features
  1. Metadata Integration: The new Polkadot app includes metadata in transaction signatures, enhancing the network’s security. This metadata is used for transaction rendering, ensuring users can verify the transaction details.
  2. Reduced Metadata Size: To optimize metadata for small embedded devices, a succinct metadata representation is proposed. It involves a Merkle tree to shorten the metadata’s size and make it more manageable for devices with limited RAM.
  3. Dynamic Parsing: The app can parse metadata efficiently, even on devices with limited dynamic memory.
  4. Extended Signature Mode: The app introduces an extended signature mode with a domain separation feature. It doesn’t require the inclusion of the root of the Merkle tree in transactions, reducing overhead.
Collaborative Effort

The success of this initiative depends on collaboration among multiple stakeholders, including Zondax, integral components of the Polkadot ecosystem like Parity, and Ledger. Funded through the Polkadot Treasury, this joint effort aims to provide a long-term, secure, and generic solution.

The Impact

The new Polkadot app will be available for all Polkadot-SDK-based chains, significantly enhancing offline device security and usability. The benefits include:

  • Improved Ecosystem Resilience: Enhancing network security and removing significant user experience issues.
  • Innovation Acceleration: Enabling teams to innovate and develop new features for relay chains, parachains, and current/future users.
  • Network Adoption: Facilitating a smoother and more user-friendly adoption of the Polkadot ecosystem.

The new Polkadot app is poised to be a game-changer for operating the Polkadot ecosystem. It represents a step towards greater security, reliability, and efficiency.

Stay tuned for more updates as this project continues to unfold. Zondax will keep the latest developments updates on the new Polkadot app dedicated forum
A support article is being prepared to be published on Ledger docs. It will detail the different interactions enabled by the new Polkadot application.

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