KeyChains: A Decentralized Public-Key Infrastructure

TitleKeyChains: A Decentralized Public-Key Infrastructure
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsMorselli R, Bhattacharjee B, Katz J, Marsh MA
JournalTechnical Reports from UMIACS, UMIACS-TR-2006-12
Date Published2006/03/02/
KeywordsTechnical Report

A Certification Authority (CA) can be used to certify keys and build apublic-key infrastructure (PKI) when all users trust the same CA. A
decentralized PKI trades off absolute assurance on keys for
independence from central control and improved scalability and
robustness. The PGP ``web of trust'' model has been suggested as a
decentralized certification system, and has been used with great
success for secure email. Although the PGP web of trust model allows
anyone to issue certificates which can be used to form certificate
chains, the discovery and construction of certificate chains relies on
centralized keyservers to store certificates and respond to queries.
In this paper, we design and implement KeyChains, a peer-to-peer
system which incorporates a novel lookup mechanism specifically
tailored to the task of generating and retrieving certificate chains
in completely unstructured networks. By layering our system on top of
the web of trust model, we thus obtain the first PKI which is truly
decentralized in all respects. Our analysis and simulations show that
the resulting system is both efficient and secure.