Success for WELCOME Programme Beneficiary’s Team

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A group of cryptologists from the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics of the University of Warsaw, led by dr hab. Stefan Dziembowski, Foundation for Polish Science WELCOME programme beneficiary, has constructed cryptographic protocols based on the Bitcoin currency. These protocols allow parties without mutual trust to carry out secure operations such as internet lotteries or trade in confidential information. The papers describing these constructions have been accepted for two conferences: the prestigious IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy 2014 and the First Workshop on Bitcoin Research. The papers were authored by Mgr Marcin Andrychowicz, Dr hab. Stefan Dziembowski, Daniel Malinowski and Mgr Łukasz Mazurek.

 

BitCoin is a decentralised digital currency created by an anonymous author using the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto”. Since its introduction in 2009, it has gained considerable popularity and numerous imitators. In early April 2014 it had a capitalisation of 5 billion dollars. In the published papers the group succeeded in showing how certain specific properties of this currency can be used in the area of cryptography known as “secure multiparty computation protocols” (MPCs).

The first paper, entitled “Secure Multiparty Computations on Bitcoin”, contains a construction of commitment schemes in which the party committing to a secret is forced to reveal it after a certain time, on pain of financial penalty. Furthermore, this paper shows how this protocol can be used to construct secure Bitcoin lottery protocols without using a trusted third party.

The second paper, “Fair Two-party Computations via Bitcoin deposits”, demonstrates how in general it is possible to securely simulate computation of any function by two persons in such a way that (a) the persons do not reveal their secrets to each other and (b) neither of them can withdraw from the process of computing this function on pain of financial penalty, which guarantees fairness. Although the protocols fulfilling condition (a) have been known since the 1980s (as secure two-party computation protocols), it is not possible to guarantee fairness without additional premises. The published paper provides an attractive way of guaranteeing fairness using Bitcoin.

Based on the techniques introduced in these papers, it is possible to create not only secure lotteries, but also a range of other solutions, such as trade in secret information or secure auctions of digital goods.

The IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy is among the most prestigious annual conferences (and according to some rankings the most prestigious) devoted to IT aspects of security and privacy. The papers submitted for the conference undergo a stringent review process. This year, 44 were selected from a total of 324 submissions.

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Mgr Marcin Andrychowicz is a doctoral candidate and member of the Cryptology and Data Security Group at the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics of the University of Warsaw, where he completed his master’s degree in informatics in 2013. Since 2011 he has been a researcher in the WELCOME FNP project under the leadership of Dr hab. Stefan Dziembowski. His main subject of research is internet currencies and cryptographic systems resistant to information leaks.

 

Dr hab. Stefan Dziembowski is an associate professor at the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics of the University of Warsaw. His research interests concern theoretical and applied cryptography.

Dr hab. Dziembowski earned his master’s degree in informatics in 1996 from the University of Warsaw. He completed his doctorate in 2001 at the University of Aarhus (Denmark), and his habilitation in mathematical sciences in 2012 at the University of Warsaw. He held postdocs at ETH in Zurich, CNR in Pisa and the Sapienza University of Rome, where he became an assistant professor in 2008. In 2010 he transferred to the University of Warsaw, where he is the leader of a research group studying cryptology and information protection. The same year, he received a grant from the Foundation for Polish Science WELCOME programme, allowing him to pursue the Cryptographic Protocols Provably-Secure Against Physical Attacks project.

He has given papers at leading information technology conferences (FOCS, STOC, CRYPTO, EUROCRYPT, ASIACRYPT, TCC, IEEE S&P, LICS and others) and published in renowned journals including Journal of Cryptology and IEEE Transactions on Information Theory. He has been invited onto the programme committees of major conferences such as CRYPTO, EUROCRYPT, ASIACRYPT, TCC and ICALP on numerous occasions.

Dr hab. Dziembowski was also a beneficiary of a prestigious ERC Starting Grant and a Marie-Curie Intra-European Fellowship.

 

Daniel Malinowski is a master’s student in informatics and mathematics as well as a member of the Cryptology and Data Security Group in the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics of the University of Warsaw. Since 2012 he has worked on the WELCOME FNP (“Cryptographic Protocols Provably-Secure Against Physical Attacks”) project under the leadership of Dr hab. Stefan Dziembowski. His main interests are cryptographic formulas resistant to information leaks and crypto-currencies.

 

Mgr Łukasz Mazurek is a doctoral candidate and member of the Cryptology and Data Security Group at the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics of the University of Warsaw. In 2013 he completed his master’s degree in informatics and bachelor’s degree in physics within the Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in Mathematics and Natural Sciences programme at the University of Warsaw. Since 2012 he has worked on the WELCOME FNP (“Cryptographic Protocols Provably-Secure Against Physical Attacks”) project under the leadership of Dr hab. Stefan Dziembowski. His main interests are practical implementations of cryptographic systems resistant to information leaks and crypto-currencies.