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Cryptography and Security, Theory and Practice

Date and Time
Tuesday, April 23, 2002 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
Benny Pinkas, from STAR Lab Intertrust Technologies
Robert Tarjan
Research in cryptography and security has an incredible potential for fruitful interaction between theory and practice. The case of public-key cryptography may be considered an example of a successful transition from theory to practice. Elsewhere, there has been less interaction between the fields. For instance, cryptographers have devised procedures for performing many seemingly impossible tasks, using zero-knowledge proofs and protocols for secure function evaluation; however none of these procedures is in every-day use.

This talk describes a body of research that bridges this gap, presenting two results in detal. The first is a protocol involving two parties, each one holding a private database. The aim of the protocol is to compute the well-known ID3 data-mining algorithm on the union of the databases, correctly computing the result without revealing any other information about the two databases. The result is unique in showing that an existing complex algoithm can be implemented in the style of theorists' "secure function evaluation". The protocol has sub-linear overhead, and can be applied to databses containing millions of transactions.

The second result is a Secure Human Input Protocol (SHIP), which enables human users to encrypt messages (e.g. passwords) in a way that defeats attacks by automated eavesdropping adversaries, and requires no computational aids for the users. The protocol makes novel use of several techniques that attempt to distinguish between a human user and a computer program. We give precise reductions from the security of our protocol to that of the distinguishing techniques that we use.

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