How to Bind Anonymous Credentials to Humans


Julia Hesse, IBM Research Europe - Zurich; Nitin Singh, IBM Research India - Bangalore; Alessandro Sorniotti, IBM Research Europe - Zurich


Digital and paper-based authentication are the two predominant mechanisms that have been deployed in the real world to authenticate end-users. When verification of a digital credential is performed in person (e.g. the authentication that was often required to access facilities at the peak of the COVID global pandemic), the two mechanisms are often deployed together: the verifier checks government-issued ID to match the picture on the ID to the individual holding it, and then checks the digital credential to see that the personal details on it match those on the ID and to discover additional attributes of the holder. This pattern is extremely common and very likely to remain in place for the foreseeable future. However, it poses an interesting problem: if the digital credential is privacy-preserving (e.g. based on BBS+ on CL signatures), but the holder is still forced to show an ID card or a passport to verify that the presented credential was indeed issued to the holder, what is the point of deploying privacy-preserving digital credential? In this paper we address this problem by redefining what an ID card should show and force a minimal but mandatory involvement of the card in the digital interaction. Our approach permits verifiers to successfully authenticate holders and to determine if they are the rightful owners of the digital credential. At the same time, optimal privacy guarantees are preserved. We design our scheme, formally define and analyse its security in the Universal Composability (UC) framework, and implement the card component, showing the running time to be below 200ms irrespective of the number of certified attributes.

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@inproceedings {291317,
author = {Julia Hesse and Nitin Singh and Alessandro Sorniotti},
title = {How to Bind Anonymous Credentials to Humans},
booktitle = {32nd USENIX Security Symposium (USENIX Security 23)},
year = {2023},
isbn = {978-1-939133-37-3},
address = {Anaheim, CA},
pages = {3047--3064},
url = {},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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