Paper 2022/743

How Efficient are Replay Attacks against Vote Privacy? A Formal Quantitative Analysis

David Mestel, University of Luxembourg
Johannes Mueller, University of Luxembourg
Pascal Reisert, University of Stuttgart

Replay attacks are among the most well-known attacks against vote privacy. Many e-voting systems have been proven vulnerable to replay attacks, including systems like Helios that are used in real practical elections. Despite their popularity, it is commonly believed that replay attacks are inefficient but the actual threat that they pose to vote privacy has never been studied formally. Therefore, in this paper, we precisely analyze for the first time how efficient replay attacks really are. We study this question from commonly used and complementary perspectives on vote privacy, showing as an independent contribution that a simple extension of a popular game-based privacy definition corresponds to a strong entropy-based notion. Our results demonstrate that replay attacks can be devastating for a voter's privacy even when an adversary's resources are very limited. We illustrate our formal findings by applying them to a number of real-world elections, showing that a modest number of replays can result in significant privacy loss. Overall, our work reveals that, contrary to a common belief, replay attacks can be very efficient and must therefore be considered a serious threat.

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Published elsewhere. IEEE CSF 2022
privacy electronic voting information flow
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david mestel @ uni lu
johannes mueller @ uni lu
pascal reisert @ sec uni-stuttgart de
2022-06-14: approved
2022-06-10: received
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      author = {David Mestel and Johannes Mueller and Pascal Reisert},
      title = {How Efficient are Replay Attacks against Vote Privacy? A Formal Quantitative Analysis},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2022/743},
      year = {2022},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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