Google Research

I Told You Tomorrow: Practical Time-Locked Secrets using Smart Contracts

  • Enrico Bacis
  • Dario Facchinetti
  • Marco Rosa
  • Marco Guarnieri
  • Matthew Rossi
  • Stefano Paraboschi
Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Availability, Reliability and Security (ARES '21), Association for Computing Machinery (2021)


A Time-Lock enables the release of a secret at a future point in time. Many literature works implement Time-Locks as cryptographic puzzles, binding the recovery of the secret to the solution of it. Since the time required to find the solution to the puzzle may vary due to a multitude of factors, including the computational effort spent, these solutions may not suit all the practical scenarios.

To overcome this limitation, we propose I Told You Tomorrow (ITYT), a novel way of implementing time-locked secrets based on smart contracts. ITYT relies on the blockchain to measure the elapse of time, and it combines threshold cryptography with economic incentives and penalties to replace cryptographic puzzles.

We implement a prototype of ITYT on top of the Ethereum blockchain. The prototype leverages secure Multi-Party Computation to avoid any single point of trust. We also analyze resiliency to attacks with the help of economic game theory, in the context of rational adversaries. The experiments run demonstrate the low cost and limited resource consumption associated with our approach.

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