Meet the Team: Aurora Labs’ Bridge Team Lead Kirill Abramov

Meet the team is a series that highlights the work and expertise of Aurora Labs' team members.

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The Aurora Labs team is made up of exceptional individuals that left a mark in the industries they have been part of by innovating and building cutting edge technology. These top-tier professionals have unique stories to share about their journeys that deserve to be talked about as they can provide inspiration and guidance to new builders joining this ecosystem. With this series we aim to do just that by highlighting the work and experiences of a generation of pioneers in the Web3 world paying tribute to their valuable contributions and achievements.

Early Career, From Computer Vision and Audio Engineering to Blockchain

Kirill Abramov is a Ukrainian software engineer with a passion for blockchain technology and complex distributed systems. His career in software engineering began during his first years at the Zaporizhzhia State Engineering Academy, where he pursued bachelor's and master's degrees in Software Engineering. At the same time, Kirill got involved in different projects developing digital audio workstations, plugins for audio software, and computer vision projects. These experiences helped Kirill identify his main interests and strengthened his passion and curiosity for software engineering. And it was not long after that Kirill’s interest was grabbed by the emerging field of blockchain technology.

Since 2008 Kirill had been paying attention to the rise of cryptocurrencies, but it wasn’t until 2015 that he decided to get deeper into it by starting to work on a few blockchain projects. Kirill was fascinated by blockchain's network architecture and immediately realized that “blockchain technology could have a tangible impact on everyday people”. This new field matched well with Kirill’s desire to create technology with a real-world impact as well as with his aptitude for creativity. Besides that, Kirill was captivated and motivated by open-source culture for a long period of time, which perfectly aligns with the principles of transparency and decentralization that underlie the blockchain industry.

To make his own contribution to the open-source world, Kirill took a short break from blockchain development and applied for the Google Summer of Code 2016 participation, a program where young programmers can work on open-source projects and get compensated for the work done upon successful project completion. Kirill passed the application process and dedicated several months to developing open-source software for neuroscientists.

During the same year, Kirill also began exploring Zero Knowledge technology working on a project that was trying to develop a ZK-encrypted video messenger. It was an ambitious and challenging project, as Kirill mentions, “as I think back to those moments, I realize the immense scale and complexity of the project during that era. The cutting-edge ZK technology, which is still nascent nowadays, was an even more rare phenomenon in those days. It was a thrilling and a little bit terrifying experience”. Further, Kirill immersed into several other blockchain projects that allowed him to broaden his blockchain horizon.

One of the most remarkable projects was Beam, the first blockchain based on the Minblewimble blockchain protocol, that enables people to communicate privately and securely over the blockchain and perform confidential transactions. In this context, Kirill was involved with the building of firmware and applications for hardware wallets such as Ledger and Trezor, which, as he said, “ was particularly challenging as it required a lot of debugging and ‘black magic’ of reverse engineering”. And it was during this time that Kirill also was involved in implementing blockchain bridge designs and cross-chain applications, an experience that would later lead Kirill into the Aurora Lab’s Rainbow Bridge.

The Beginning of a New Era with NEAR and Aurora

After a couple of years spent at Beam as a software engineer, Kirill joined NEAR Protocol in January 2021. He explains his motivation to join the company: “NEAR was a distinct, unusual project in the blockchain world. They didn’t hold any blockchain legacy and tried to empower developers, still dedicating the attention to providing seamless user experience”. At that time, the teams that would later become the Engine and Bridge teams at Aurora Labs were just taking form. Kirill joined the Bridge team under the leadership of Alex Shevchenko, the current CEO of Aurora, and began to contribute to the improvement and deployment of the Rainbow Bridge, preparing it for its launch in March 2021.

Soon after the launch of the Rainbow Bridge, Aurora spun off into its own company, and in September 2021, Kirill became the team lead of the Rainbow Bridge. Right now, Kirill is leading the Bridge team’s effort to maintain the bridge, develop its capabilities, and enhance its security. As he remarks:

“Cross-chain tech is still rather new, and because of that, it is vulnerable to hackers’ attacks. And our main priority is precisely to make sure users' funds are always shielded from attacks. To achieve this, we developed and constantly improved our multi-layer security system. That means granularly controlling security processes for everything from development, testing, and deployment to auditing, monitoring, and maintaining our systems.”

After two years since its launch, the Rainbow Bridge has been building its reputation as a hack-proof bridge. But security is not the only priority of the Rainbow Bridge team; providing a smooth user experience makes a big part of the team’s effort. In the past year, the bridge team developed a new light-client for Ethereum post-Merge era and has shipped several key improvements such as the NEAR connector, that allows NEP-141 tokens to be bridged on Ethereum, and a connector that has enabled fast transfers between NEAR and Ethereum. These are major accomplishments for the team, but more is still to come.

Looking at the Future

Kirill's team is working on several improvements to deliver the best experience for users interacting with Aurora, Aurora Cloud, and the Silos. In the coming months, the team will focus on making the fast bridge publicly available and other important upgrades aimed at improving the Rainbow Bridge experience for Aurora Cloud clients. Both in the short and long term, the team aims to improve the bridge's security and ease of use. One of the possibilities that is currently being researched is the application of Zero Knowledge Proof technology, but, as Kirill remarks, “This is something that will take quite some time as we want to find a nice balance between adopting a new powerful and promising technology while preserving the highest standards of security.”

About Aurora

Powered by its high-performance EVM, and fully trustless Rainbow Bridge, Aurora combines an Ethereum compatible experience with the modern blockchain performance of NEAR Protocol. Aurora provides an optimal environment for the creation of scalable, carbon-neutral, future-safe, and low-cost Web3 services, as well as the perfect tools to bring to life your Web3 initiatives. Try Aurora Cloud, our all-in-one blockchain solution for enterprises, and get your Web3 journey started!

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