Proactively Accountable Anonymous Messaging in Verdict

Henry Corrigan-Gibbs, David Isaac Wolinsky, and Bryan Ford

USENIX Security Symposium
August 14-16, 2013, Washington, D.C.

  • Proceedings version: PDF (575 KB)
  • Extended version: PDF (689 KB)
  • Slides: PDF (6.6 MB), PPTx (1.5 MB)

Among anonymity systems, DC-nets have long held attraction for their resistance to traffic analysis attacks, but practical implementations remain vulnerable to internal disruption or "jamming" attacks, which require time-consuming detection procedures to resolve. We present Verdict, the first practical anonymous group communication system built using proactively verifiable DC-nets: participants use public-key cryptography to construct DC-net ciphertexts, and use zero-knowledge proofs of knowledge to detect and exclude misbehavior before disruption. We compare three alternative constructions for verifiable DC-nets: one using bilinear maps and two based on simpler ElGamal encryption. While verifiable DC-nets incur higher computational overheads due to the public-key cryptography involved, our experiments suggest that Verdict is practical for anonymous group messaging or microblogging applications, supporting groups of 100 clients at 1 second per round or 1000 clients at 10 seconds per round. Furthermore, we show how existing symmetric-key DC-nets can "fall back" to a verifiable DC-net to quickly identify misbehavior, speeding up previous detections schemes by two orders of magnitude.