Paper 2006/293

Fast Algorithms for the Free Riders Problem in Broadcast Encryption

Zulfikar Ramzan and David P. Woodruff


We provide algorithms to solve the free riders problem in broadcast encryption. In this problem, the broadcast server is allowed to choose some small subset F of the revoked set R of users to allow to decrypt the broadcast, despite having been revoked. This may allow the server to significantly reduce network traffic while only allowing a small set of non-privileged users to decrypt the broadcast. Although there are worst-case instances of broadcast encryption schemes where the free riders problem is difficult to solve (or even approximate), we show that for many specific broadcast encryption schemes, there are efficient algorithms. In particular, for the complete subtree method and some other schemes in the subset-cover framework, we show how to find the optimal assignment of free riders in O(|R||F|) time, which is independent of the total number of users. We also define an approximate version of this problem, and study specific distributions of R for which this relaxation yields even faster algorithms. Along the way we develop the first approximation algorithms for the following problem: given two integer sequences a_1 >= a_2>= ... >= a_n and b_1 >= b_2 >= ... >= b_n, output for all i, an integer j' for which a_{j'} + b_{i-j'} <= (1+\epsilon) min_j a_j + b_{i-j}. We show that if the differences a_i - a_{i+1}, b_i-b_{i+1} are bounded, then there is an O(n^{4/3}/\epsilon^{2/3})-time algorithm for this problem, improving upon the O(n^2) time of the naive algorithm.

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Publication info
Published elsewhere. This is the full version of the corresponding paper in Crypto 2006.
broadcastcertificate revocationcombinatorial cryptography
Contact author(s)
dpwood @ mit edu
2006-08-29: revised
2006-08-26: received
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      author = {Zulfikar Ramzan and David P.  Woodruff},
      title = {Fast Algorithms for the Free Riders Problem in Broadcast Encryption},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2006/293},
      year = {2006},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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