Rational protocol design: Cryptography against incentive-driven adversaries

Juan Garay, Jonathan Katz, Ueli Maurer, Björn Tackmann, Vassilis Zikas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Existing work on "rational cryptographic protocols" treats each party (or coalition of parties) running the protocol as a selfish agent trying to maximize its utility. In this work we propose a fundamentally different approach that is better suited to modeling a protocol under attack from an external entity. Specifically, we consider a two-party game between an protocol designer and an external attacker. The goal of the attacker is to break security properties such as correctness or privacy, possibly by corrupting protocol participants; the goal of the protocol designer is to prevent the attacker from succeeding. We lay the theoretical groundwork for a study of cryptographic protocol design in this setting by providing a methodology for defining the problem within the traditional simulation paradigm. Our framework provides ways of reasoning about important cryptographic concepts (e.g., adaptive corruptions or attacks on communication resources) not handled by previous game-theoretic treatments of cryptography. We also prove composition theorems that-for the first time-provide a sound way to design rational protocols assuming "ideal communication resources" (such as broadcast or authenticated channels) and then instantiate these resources using standard cryptographic tools. Finally, we investigate the problem of secure function evaluation in our framework, where the attacker has to pay for each party it corrupts. Our results demonstrate how knowledge of the attacker's incentives can be used to circumvent known impossibility results in this setting.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2013 IEEE 54th Annual Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-7695-5135-7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2013
Event54th Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science - Berkeley, United States
Duration: 27 Oct 201329 Oct 2013

Publication series

ISSN (Electronic)0272-5428


Conference54th Annual IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science
Abbreviated titleFOCS 2013
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Composition
  • Cryptographic protocols
  • Game theory
  • Secure computation


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