Fortified Multi-Party Computation: Taking Advantage of Simple Secure Hardware Modules

Authors: Brandon Broadnax, Alexander Koch (Competence Center for Applied Security Technology (KASTEL), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)), Jeremias Mechler (Competence Center for Applied Security Technology (KASTEL), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)), Tobias Müller, Jörn Müller-Quade (Competence Center for Applied Security Technology (KASTEL), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)), Matthias Nagel

Volume: 2021
Issue: 4
Pages: 312–338
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/popets-2021-0072

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Abstract: In practice, there are numerous settings where mutually distrusting parties need to perform distributed computations on their private inputs. For instance, participants in a first-price sealed-bid online auction do not want their bids to be disclosed. This problem can be addressed using secure multi-party computation (MPC), where parties can evaluate a publicly known function on their private inputs by executing a specific protocol that only reveals the correct output, but nothing else about the private inputs. Such distributed computations performed over the Internet are susceptible to remote hacks that may take place during the computation. As a consequence, sensitive data such as private bids may leak. All existing MPC protocols do not provide any protection against the consequences of such remote hacks. We present the first MPC protocols that protect the remotely hacked parties’ inputs and outputs from leaking. More specifically, unless the remote hack takes place before the party received its input or all parties are corrupted, a hacker is unable to learn the parties’ inputs and outputs, and is also unable to modify them. We achieve these strong (privacy) guarantees by utilizing the fact that in practice parties may not be susceptible to remote attacks at every point in time, but only while they are online, i.e. able to receive messages. To this end, we model communication via explicit channels. In particular, we introduce channels with an airgap switch (disconnect-able by the party in control of the switch), and unidirectional data diodes. These channels and their isolation properties, together with very few, similarly simple and plausibly remotely unhackable hardware modules serve as the main ingredient for attaining such strong security guarantees. In order to formalize these strong guarantees, we propose the UC with Fortified Security (UC#) framework, a variant of the Universal Composability (UC) framework.

Keywords: universal composability, remotely unhackable hardware modules, security notions, isolation

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