Amira Bouguera is a cryptographer and security engineer at Consensys Paris.
She graduated with an engineering degree in cryptography and cybersecurity from ENSIMAG in Grenoble, France. Amira also holds a Master's degree in applied math from the University of Science and Technology Houari Boumedienne. She focuses on R&D topics around privacy, scalability, and other related open issues of Ethereum 2.0.
How and when did blockchain and Ethereum pop on your radar?
A friend of mine was very passionate about bitcoin and Ethereum and has spoken to me about the famous
and the hard fork in Ethereum. The attack piqued my interest, and I began searching to learn more about what happened and which security vulnerability caused this bug.
Keeping blockchain on my radar, I selected a course in early 2017 to learn about the usage of cryptography in blockchain architecture. Then, I took an internship at Tessi Labs to learn more about blockchain hands-on. Later, I participated in a hackathon organized by Consensys' Social Impact team. My team created the
, and we won Financial Inclusion challenge! I applied to Consensys and joined the Paris office in January 2018.
What are you excited about in the cryptography field?
I'm especially excited about how post-quantum computing and zero-knowledge protocols will play out in the blockchain space.
Blockchain technology relies on several cryptographic techniques in several ways; for example, signing transactions using a digital signature (ECDSA algorithm). The security behind most of the cryptographic protocols is based on the difficulty of solving some mathematical problems (for example, ECDSA for Discrete Logarithm problem).
Quantum algorithms like Shor can solve several mathematical problems. Shor, for example, can solve the Discrete logarithms in polynomial time, which would break ECDSA algorithms.
Essentially, the goal of post-quantum cryptography is to develop cryptographic systems that are secure against quantum and conventional computers, while being able to interoperate with existing communication protocols and networks.
What opportunities and challenges are you working on at Consensys?
I research solutions to solve common Ethereum issues. Namely
Scalability is likely the most commonly discussed challenge regarding Ethereum. The future success of Ethereum and Web3 as a whole depends on its ability to scale as demand grows. Currently, the Ethereum network can process roughly 15 transactions per second.
Countless R&D teams are currently testing out solutions to solve the scalability issue. Layer 1 solutions include Sharding and Casper, and Layer 2 solutions like Plasma and Payment Channels or State Channels. I have high hopes that the
Privacy is a hot topic for this industry. My team and I are researching privacy issues and are relying on advanced zero-knowledge verifiable computing techniques like
. Both the implementation of these cryptographic methods and optimizing their computation complexity is currently a bottleneck for developers. We are working to solve the privacy and scalability challenges while staying as decentralized as possible.