Infoscience

Conference paper

Building Privacy-Preserving Cryptographic Credentials from Federated Online Identities

Federated identity providers, e.g., Facebook and PayPal, offer a convenient means for authenticating users to third-party applications. Unfortunately such cross-site authentications carry privacy and tracking risks. For example, federated identity providers can learn what applications users are accessing; meanwhile, the applications can know the users' identities in reality. This paper presents Crypto-Book, an anonymizing layer enabling federated identity authentications while preventing these risks. Crypto-Book uses a set of independently managed servers that employ a (t, n)-threshold cryptosystem to collectively assign credentials to each federated identity (in the form of either a public/private key-pair or blinded signed messages). With the credentials in hand, clients can then leverage anonymous authentication techniques such as linkable ring signatures or partially blind signatures to log into third-party applications in an anonymous yet accountable way. We have implemented a prototype of Crypto-Book and demonstrated its use with three applications: a Wiki system, an anonymous group communication system, and a whistleblower submission system. Crypto-Book is practical and has low overhead: in a deployment within our research group, Crypto-Book group authentication took 1.607s end-to-end, an overhead of 1.2s compared to traditional non-privacy-preserving federated authentication.

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