Enhanced Security Models for Network Protocols
Candidate: Shabsi Walfish
Advisor: Yevgeniy Dodis

Abstract

Modeling security for protocols running in the complex network environment of the Internet can be a daunting task. Ideally, a security model for the Internet should provide the following guarantee: a protocol that "securely" implements a particular task specification will retain all the same security properties as the specification itself, even when an arbitrary set of protocols runs concurrently on the same network. This guarantee must hold even when other protocols are maliciously designed to interact badly with the analyzed protocol, and even when the analyzed protocol is composed with other protocols. The popular Universal Composability (UC) security framework aims to provide this guarantee.

Unfortunately, such strong security guarantees come with a price: they are impossible to achieve without the use of some trusted setup. Typically, this trusted setup is global in nature, and takes the form of a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and/or a Common Reference String (CRS). However, the current approach to modeling security in the presence of such setups falls short of providing expected security guarantees. A quintessential example of this phenomenon is the deniability concern: there exist natural protocols that meet the strongest known security notions (including UC) while failing to provide the same deniability guarantees that their task specifications imply they should provide.

We introduce the Generalized Universal Composability (GUC) framework to extend the UC security notion and enable the re-establishment of its original intuitive security guarantees even for protocols that use global trusted setups. In particular, GUC enables us to guarantee that secure protocols will provide the same level of deniability as the task specification they implement. To demonstrate the usefulness of the GUC framework, we first apply it to the analysis and construction of deniable authentication protocols. Building upon such deniable authentication protocols, we then prove a general feasibility result showing how to construct protocols satisfying our security notion for a large class of two-party and multi-party tasks (assuming the availability of some reasonable trusted setup). Finally, we highlight the practical applicability of GUC by constructing efficient protocols that securely instantiate two common cryptographic tasks: commitments and zero-knowledge proofs.