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NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH cooperates with University of Duisburg-Essen for a new security smart contract blockchain technology

Heidelberg, Germany, 01 February 2019 - NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH jointly develops secure smart contract technology for Blockchains with University of Duisburg-Essen.

The blockchain technology is an emerging technology that is attracting the interest of many stakeholders. Smart contracts refer to application-specific code that every blockchain node executes and are an essential component in existing modern blockchains. Smart contracts find direct applicability in numerous use cases ranging from financial services, supply chain management, and healthcare.

Unfortunately, some existing blockchain systems have recently revealed major bugs and vulnerabilities within smart contracts. In 2016: attackers were able to divert more than 3.6 million ether – around 50 million US dollars – of the money stored within a smart contact by exploiting a so-called reentrancy attack. Here, the attackers could repeatedly enter the smart contracts and withdraw a certain amount without updating the ledger.

In cooperation with paluno – the Ruhr Institute for Software Technology at University of Duisburg-Essen, the NEC Laboratories Europe have shown that novel reentrancy attacks can bypass the existing state of the art analysis tools. We have developed a security technology to protect smart contracts from reentrancy attacks.

The new defense method called Sereum protects existing, deployed contracts against reentrancy attacks in a backwards compatible way based on run-time monitoring and validation. Sereum monitors data flows during the execution of smart contracts using dynamic taint tracking. By implementing and evaluating the Ethereum blockchain, we showed that Sereum covers the actual execution flow of a smart contract to accurately detect and prevent attacks, with a false positive rate as small as 0.06% and with negligible run-time overhead. 

Dr. Ghassan Karame, Manager & Chief Researcher of NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH stated: “The blockchain emerges as an innovative tool which proves to be useful in many application scenarios and can change the way we see online applications today. Securing smart contracts emerges as a crucial task to ensure the sustainability of existing blockchain systems. We believe that our latest defence will be very useful to bootstrap trust in existing deployed smart contracts.”

We will present a detailed description of this new defence technology solution at the NDSS Symposium from the 24th to 27th of February 2019 in San Diego, California, USA.


About NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH
NEC Laboratories Europe located in Heidelberg, Germany was established in 1994 with special emphasis on meeting the needs of NEC Group’s European customers. It dedicates research, development, and standardization on cutting-edge information and communication technologies for creating innovative social solutions.

Our major research areas are including 5G networks, data science, artificial intelligence, IoT platforms as well as IoT security, and blockchain.
These technologies will promote NEC Group’s Solutions for a better Society in fields of digital health, lifeline and communication infrastructures, safer cities and public services.

For additional information, please visit our website at:

About NEC Europe Ltd.
NEC Europe Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, a leader in the integration of IT network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. NEC Europe Ltd. is building upon its heritage and reputation for innovation and quality by providing its expertise, solutions and services to a broad range of customers, from telecom operators to enterprises and the public sector. For additional information, please visit the NEC Europe Ltd. home page at:

About paluno – the ¬Ruhr Institute for Software Technology
paluno — the Ruhr Institute for Software Technology — is one of the largest research institutes for software engineering in Germany. Ten professors and more than 100 scientists conduct excellent applied and basic research here. They investigate and test principles, methods, and tools for developing software-based technologies.

As key drivers of digitization, these technologies are changing the way we work, learn, operate, produce, communicate, and move around the world. The scientists at paluno are committed to ensuring that digitization with software-based systems succeeds and that the new technologies serve people, are user-friendly, and are secure.

For additional information, please visit our website at

Press contacts
NEC Press Contact:
Gen Kazama
Marketing Assistant
NEC Laboratories Europe GmbH

University of Duisburg Essen Press Contact:
Birgit Kremer
Press Release Manager
paluno -The Ruhr Institute for Software Technology
University of Duisburg Essen

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