Special Talk

A Whirlwind Tour of Anonymous Credentials

Speaker:Anna Lysyanskaya
Brown University
Date: Friday, March 25, 2016
Time: 10:45am - 11:45am
Location: 330 Gross Hall, Duke


How does Alice convince Bob that she possesses a particular credential from Charlie? If Alice has a signature from Charlie on her public key, then all she will need to do is to show this signature to Bob, and also convince Bob that she is indeed Alice. In this setting, it is relatively clear how to revoke Alice's credentials; also, one can limit the frequency and context of Alice's credential use, and hold her accountable if she exceeds these limits.

How does Alice do this without revealing her identity to Bob, or indeed any identifying information? Research on anonymous credentials concerns itself with protocols that enable Alice to obtain and demonstrate possession of credentials without revealing unnecessary information. Similarly to the non-anonymous case, limits can be placed on the frequency and context of Alice's use of anonymous credentials as well, and she can be identified and held accountable if she exceeds them. Anonymous delegation is a research area that concerns itself with the next question: how does Alice delegate her credential to Bob without revealing any information about herself and learning anything about Bob?

In this talk, I will survey what we know so far about anonymous credentials, conditional anonymity and anonymous delegation. Specifically, I will outline generic constructions for these schemes, and give examples of specific instantiations. Some of these instantiations are efficient enough for practical use, have been implemented and piloted in real systems. I will also review key open problems whose resolution will make anonymous credentials more widely deployable.


Anna Lysyanskaya is a Professor of Computer Science at Brown University. She joined Brown in 2002, after obtaining her Ph.D. at MIT. Her research area is cryptography, especially privacy-preserving cryptographic protocols, such as anonymous credentials. She is a recipient of the NSF Career award and numerous other grants, the Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and the Google and IBM Faculty Fellowships.

Hosted by:
Benjamin Lee (ECE)