Knowledge Protocols and Proof Systems
protocols allow identification, key exchange and other basic cryptographic
operations to be implemented without leaking any secret information
during the conversation and with smaller computational requirements
than using comparable public key protocols. Thus Zero-knowledge
protocols seem very attractive especially in smart card and embedded
applications. There is quite a lot written about zero-knowledge
protocols in theory, but not so much practical down-to-earth material
is available even though zero-knowledge techniques have been used
in many applications. Some of the practical aspects of zero-knowledge
protocols and related issues are discussed, in the mind-set of minimalistic
practical environments. The hardware technology used in these environments
is described, and resulting real-world practical problems are related
to zero-knowledge protocols. A very lightweight zero knowledge protocol
is outlined and its possible uses and cryptographic strengths and
weaknesses are analyzed.
protocols, as their name says, are cryptographic protocols which
do not reveal the information or secret itself during the protocol,
or to any eavesdropper. They have some very interesting properties,
e.g. as the secret itself (e.g. your identity) is not transferred
to the verifying party, they cannot try to masquerade as you to
any third party.
Although Zero-knowledge protocols look a bit unusual, most usual
cryptographic problems can be solved by using them, as well as with
public key cryptography. For some applications, like key exchange
(for later normal cheap and fast symmetric encryption on the communications
link) or proving mutual identities, zero-knowledge protocols can
in many occasions be a very good and suitable solution.
2.1 THE PARTIES
IN A ZERO-KNOWLEDGE PROTOCOL
people appear in zero-knowledge protocols:
Peggy the Prover
Peggy has some information that she wants to prove to Victor, but
she doesn't want to tell the secret itself to Victor.
Victor the Verifier
Victor asks Peggy a series of questions, trying to find out if Peggy
really knows the secret or not. Victor does not learn anything of
the secret itself, even if he would cheat or not adhere to the protocol.
Eve the Eavesdropper
Eve is listening to the conversation between Peggy and Victor. A
good zero-knowledge protocol also makes sure that any third-party
will not learn a thing about the secret, and will not even be able
to replay it for anyone else later to convince them.
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