Understanding Zero-knowledge Proof
In a world where data privacy is core to everything we do, where we share so much of our personal lives through the apps we use, the content we share on Facebook, the queries we type on Google, the products we buy on Amazon, privacy-enhancing tools can be tremendously valuable for us. That’s why technologies such as Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP)—which are designed to safeguard our personal data from hackers, competitors, and third parties—should be implemented in almost every product and service we use. Let’s analyze what this technology actually is and better understand how it’s used in today’s world.
What is a Zero Knowledge Proof?
At the end of the 1980s, MIT researchers Goldwasser, Micali, and Rackoff published their work in The Knowledge Complexity of Interactive Proof Systems. Their idea was to preserve privacy in online transactions and eliminate the risk of data breach.
Zero Knowledge Proof is a method by which one party can prove to another party that a given statement is true without having to convey any additional information apart from the fact that the statement is indeed true. In other words, ZKP allows information to be verified without having to disclose it.
We can use an example to better understand this concept. Let’s imagine Alice wants to demonstrate to Bob that she has the password to a Google account, but without revealing the actual password. In a standard scenario, Alice would need to show Bob the password to demonstrate that she has it. But if Alice were to use the principles behind ZKP systems, she would simply prove that she had the password by signing in to the Google account and showing Bob that she is in. In ZKP, this human interaction we just talked about is replaced by algorithms that do not disclose the actual knowledge of the piece of information but simply prove it to another party.
This is important because, at Kelvin Zero, we run our business by taking into account those same principles that inspired the creation of this protocol in the first place. That’s actually how Kelvin Zero was started, with the idea of making all digital interactions secure and private. Our SoLID platform is a good example of this vision as we patented a key management and distribution system that allows us to validate and distribute any data object with total privacy.
In order to be classified as a ZKP, a system must satisfy three main criteria: it must be based on statistical soundness that makes it clear that the prover actually has the information, it must enable the verification of the proof (completeness), and it must not reveal any additional information other than the fact that the prover is revealing the truth or not.
ZKP is a very advantageous method because it does not require very complex cryptographic systems while enhancing security and privacy levels. However, they do come with a cost, since the computational power required to run ZKP systems is higher than traditional methods. Also, mathematically speaking, the probability of having certain proof of the knowledge of a piece of information will never reach 100% with ZKP.
Applications of Zero Knowledge Proof
ZKP is widely used in modern systems to protect valuable information. Here are some examples:
- One common application of ZKP is password authentication. When a user inputs his or her password, the system uses ZKP to verify the validity of the password without having to learn the password itself. This method is often used in password managers and on-line banking applications. But there are good reasons to prefer passwordless solutions to mitigate the risk of data breaches and hacks.
- Blockchain technology applications often use ZKP to maintain anonymity among their users. When you make a transaction on the blockchain, you must prove that you own the funds without revealing your identity. ZKP allows for this verification to happen without revealing any information beyond the transaction itself. Ethereum is a good example of a blockchain ecosystem that relies heavily on ZKP. Also, Zcash was the first widespread use case and application of zero-knowledge proofs in the crypto world.
- ZKP is also used in digital signatures. Every time a user digitally signs a document or message, he must prove that the signature is valid without revealing the private key used to sign it. This is important because if they revealed their private key, anyone would be able to sign the document or message using their signature. ZKP allows signature verification without revealing any additional information beyond the validity of the signature. ZKP-enabled digital signatures create a tremendous amount of opportunities when it comes to ideas such as digital ID and identity verification both at the public sector level as well as in the private sector.
These are just a few examples of how ZKP is used in modern widely adopted systems to protect valuable information. As the need for security and privacy in our digital world continues to grow, we can expect to see even more creative uses of ZKP in the future.
In conclusion, Zero Knowledge Proof is a compelling technology that holds the potential to revolutionize the world of data protection. By enabling the verification of information without exposing additional data, ZKP strikes a balance between needing to verify the information and needing to keep personal data private and secure. Given the increasing reliance on digital technologies, ZKP is becoming more important than ever. Companies like Kelvin Zero are at the forefront of these types of technology, offering products and solutions that ensure data privacy and security.