Paper 2021/1419

With a Little Help from My Friends: Constructing Practical Anonymous Credentials

Lucjan Hanzlik and Daniel Slamanig


Anonymous credentials (ACs) are a powerful cryptographic tool for the secure use of digital services, when simultaneously aiming for strong privacy guarantees of users combined with strong authentication guarantees for providers of services. They allow users to selectively prove possession of attributes encoded in a credential without revealing any other meaningful information about themselves. While there is a significant body of research on AC systems, modern use-cases of ACs such as mobile applications come with various requirements not sufficiently considered so far. These include preventing the sharing of credentials and coping with resource constraints of the platforms (e.g., smart cards such as SIM cards in smartphones). Such aspects are typically out of scope of AC constructions, and, thus AC systems that can be considered entirely practical have been elusive so far. In this paper we address this problem by introducing and formalizing the notion of core/helper anonymous credentials (CHAC). The model considers a constrained core device (e.g., a SIM card) and a powerful helper device (e.g., a smartphone). The key idea is that the core device performs operations that do not depend on the size of the credential or the number of attributes, but at the same time the helper device is unable to use the credential without its help. We present a provably secure generic construction of CHACs using a combination of signatures with flexible public keys (SFPK) and the novel notion of aggregatable attribute-based equivalence class signatures (AAEQ) along with a concrete instantiation. The key characteristics of our scheme are that the size of showing tokens is independent of the number of attributes in the credential(s) and that the core device only needs to compute a single elliptic curve scalar multiplication, regardless of the number of attributes. We confirm the practical efficiency of our CHACs with an implementation of our scheme on a Multos smart card as the core and an Android smartphone as the helper device. A credential showing requires less than 500 ms on the smart card and around 200 ms on the smartphone (even for a credential with 1000 attributes).

Available format(s)
Public-key cryptography
Publication info
Published elsewhere. MINOR revision.ACM CCS 2021
Anonymous credentialssecure elementssmart cardsmobile
Contact author(s)
lucjan hanzlik @ cispa de
2021-10-24: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Lucjan Hanzlik and Daniel Slamanig},
      title = {With a Little Help from My Friends: Constructing Practical Anonymous Credentials},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2021/1419},
      year = {2021},
      doi = {10.1145/3460120.3484582},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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