Paper 2014/803

A Decentralized Public Key Infrastructure with Identity Retention

Conner Fromknecht, Dragos Velicanu, and Sophia Yakoubov


Public key infrastructures (PKIs) enable users to look up and verify one another's public keys based on identities. Current approaches to PKIs are vulnerable because they do not offer sufficiently strong guarantees of \emph{identity retention}; that is, they do not effectively prevent one user from registering a public key under another's already-registered identity. In this paper, we leverage the consistency guarantees provided by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Namecoin to build a PKI that ensures identity retention. Our system, called Certcoin, has no central authority and thus requires the use of secure distributed dictionary data structures to provide efficient support for key lookup.

Available format(s)
Public-key cryptography
Publication info
Preprint. MINOR revision.
public key infrastructurebitcoin
Contact author(s)
sonka @ bu edu
2014-11-11: last of 2 revisions
2014-10-10: received
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Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Conner Fromknecht and Dragos Velicanu and Sophia Yakoubov},
      title = {A Decentralized Public Key Infrastructure with Identity Retention},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2014/803},
      year = {2014},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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