The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

The Center for Education and Research in
Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS)

zk-creds: Flexible Anonymous Credentials from zkSNARKs and Existing Identity Infrastructure

Principal Investigator: Christina Garman

Frequently, users on the web need to show that they are, for example, not a robot, old enough to access an age restricted video, or eligible to download an ebook from their local public library without being tracked. Anonymous credentials were developed to address these concerns. However, existing schemes do not handle the realities of deployment or the complexities of real-world identity. Instead, they implicitly make assumptions such as there being an issuing authority for anonymous credentials that, for real applications, requires the local department of motor vehicles to issue sophisticated cryptographic tokens to show users are over 18. In reality, there are multiple trust sources for a given identity attribute, their credentials have distinctively different formats, and many, if not all, issuers are unwilling to adopt new protocols.

We present and build zk-creds, a protocol that uses general-purpose zero-knowledge proofs to 1) remove the need for credential issuers to hold signing keys: credentials can be issued to a bulletin board instantiated as a transparency log, Byzantine system, or even a blockchain; 2) convert existing identity documents into anonymous credentials without modifying documents or coordinating with their issuing authority; 3) allow for flexible, composable, and complex identity statements over multiple credentials. Concretely, identity assertions using zk-creds take less than 150ms in a real-world scenario of using a passport to anonymously access age-restricted videos.


Students: Jacob White

Representative Publications