Traditional forms of security, such photos and handwritten signatures, are outmoded as paper-based communication and transaction processes are supplanted by automated ones.
Digital certificates, in the opinion of the majority of security professionals, are the greatest technology for protecting electronic communications. They will eventually be incorporated into every device or piece of software that needs to be able to connect securely. They are now widely used for authenticating and encrypting email and applications.
However, there is a significant issue with this inevitable trend: unless significant action is taken, everyone will be forced to communicate using the most pervasive electronic monitoring device ever created. There will also be numerous opportunities for hackers, dishonest employees, government organizations, financial institutions, insurance firms, and others to misuse digital certificates.
Stefan Brands offers cryptographic building blocks for the creation of digital certificates in this book that protect privacy without compromising security. Similar to movie tickets or subway tokens, these certificates serve the same purpose: anyone may verify their validity and the information they contain, but nothing else. Furthermore, it is impossible to link distinct behaviors by the same person.
Owners of certificates can decide to whom and to what extent information is disseminated. Combining subsets of the suggested cryptographic building elements enables a cookbook approach to design public key infrastructures. Potential applications include electronic cash, electronic postage, digital rights management, pseudonyms for online chat rooms, health care information storage, electronic voting, and even electronic gambling.