Although the advent of blockchain technology has offered us many benefits, like openness, modifiability, and scalability, it may not provide the necessary level of anonymity for some types of transactions since it is completely decentralized and there’s no sole authority to administer it. A new age is required because data relating to individuals is constantly being monitored by a large group of technical specialists, and individuals have very little security as a result. Even if blockchain, which is carrying the candle for a decentralized system, is making adjustments on an everyday basis, these changes are not sufficient.
Integrating zero-knowledge proofs, also known as ZKPs, alongside distributed ledger technology does have the potential to provide consumers a potent combination of absoluteness, a high level of security, and confidentiality. This new technology, known as zero-knowledge proof, is currently waiting in the wings to make its debut on the marketplace, and it is just a matter of time until it becomes widely adopted by blockchain experts across the globe.
It’s likely that some of you might be familiar with the term “zero-knowledge proof,” although you may not fully understand the idea that underpins it. The zero-knowledge cryptography technology is a relatively recent one that enables an increased degree of security to be added to typical blockchain-based transactions. However, how satisfying is it in practice? Is there any chance that this may be the answer to all security issues users have been facing lately? What exactly is its working mechanism, and what advantages does it have to offer? I am sure you might have these questions in mind, and my following guide with an attempt to address all of them. Keep reading!
Introduction to Zero-Knowledge Proof
ZK protocol, or zero-knowledge proof, is a kind of authentication process in which two important individuals, known as a verifier and a prover, are involved. The prover (as the name suggests) proves that he has access to some sort of pivotal data, whereas the verifies confirms if the prover actually holds the data or is just bluffing around to hack into a system.
In a zero-knowledge proof framework, the prover, therefore, requires the verifier how they are aware of a unique piece of data (like an answer to a complex algebraic equation) without actually divulging the data to the verifier or telling the actual answer. This allows the prover to maintain their privacy while allowing the verifier to ensure only legitimate people are getting accessibility to a system.
In the year 1985, a group of three individuals, namely Silvio Micali, Shafi Goldwasser, and Charles Rackoff, initially presented the idea of zero-knowledge proofs. They came up with the concept of knowledge complexity, which is a standard meter for the magnitude of data that needs to be transferred from a prover to a verifier in order for it to be regarded as legitimate. This notion got immediate attention and was even published in The New York Times in 1987.
As time went by, researchers were able to demonstrate that, with adequate and meaningful communication between a prover and a verifier, one could effectively minimize the magnitude of data that was required to be transferred from one party to the other. This was a significant step forward in the field of proof-of-concept research since it was an attempt to minimize the principal concern, which concentrated on the unauthorized disclosure of data to the verifier.
Cryptologists working in the present day make use of these proof mechanisms in order to deliver higher degrees of security and anonymity, as it is one of the biggest issues blockchain users face every day. The idea of ZKP was originally introduced decades back when it was proven that it is actually possible to prove certain qualities of an integer without exposing the quantity itself or any further critical piece of data.
In the same year, it was also discovered that the more the interaction between the verifier and the prover, the lesser would be the number of facts and proofs needed to prove that the prover indeed holds the actual piece of information.
Comprehensiveness and validity are two fundamental criteria that must be satisfied before a ZK proof may be accepted. The capacity of both the prover to show understanding of the pertinent material to a significant level of plausible correctness is what we mean when we talk about completeness.
In order for the proof to really be valid, the verifier has to be capable of recognizing with a high degree of accuracy whether the prover genuinely possesses the material in question. The last need for proof to be considered zero-knowledge is that it must satisfy both of the wholeness and coherence criteria without the evidence in the issue being disclosed to the person doing the proving or the person doing the verifying.
Organizations that place a premium on both confidentiality and protection are the most common places to find usage for zero-knowledge proofs. ZK proofs are one method that may be used by authentication mechanisms in order to verify passwords or profiles without explicitly disclosing them.
The contact that normally takes place between a prover and a verifier in a zero-knowledge demonstration may now be eliminated thanks to the development of non-interactive zero-knowledge proofs. However, the only thing required to accomplish computationally zero-knowledge is a shared reference thread between the one doing the proving and the person doing the verifying.
How Do Zero-Knowledge Proofs Work?
A zero-knowledge proof is a kind of proof that enables you to demonstrate the veracity of a declaration without disclosing either the substance of the statement or the method by which you arrived at the conclusion that the statement is true. The use of computations that accept information as input and produce either “true” or “false” as an outcome is essential to the operation of zero-knowledge processes, which is what makes this feasible.
The following are the requirements that need to be met by a zero-knowledge protocol:
The zero-knowledge approach will always return “true” if the information that was provided was correct. Therefore, the evidence may be acknowledged if the fundamental assertion is correct and the person proving it and the person verifying it behave in an unbiased manner.
If the information is incorrect, there is no way, in principle, to trick the zero-knowledge technique into showing ‘true.’ As a result, a dishonest prover is incapable of convincing a genuine verifier that a sentence that is not legitimate is correct. However, in the case of a dishonest verifier, there is a very low probability that things might go opposite.
The verifier gains no more information about the original subject except for the information that’s pivotal to determining if the statement is true, and that’s why it is said that the verifier has zero knowledge of the assertion in reality. Because of this restriction, the verifier is unable to extrapolate the original message for whatsoever reason.
The following is a well-known illustration that illustrates the fundamental concept behind ZKPs:
Let’s say you (the prover) have a buddy who cannot see and, therefore, can’t tell the difference between a blue block and a pink block. Your colorblind friend would be the verifier as he has no knowledge regarding how the two blocks have different colors.
Now, you being the prover, have to provide solid evidence to your friend that the blocks are of different colors. However, your words aren’t enough for your friend to understand, and now, you decide to opt for the ZKP method to actually prove to your friend that, indeed, the two blocks are differently colored.
Now, you give both the blocks in your friend’s hands. He holds them and shows you, and since you can see, you can easily differentiate that the right hand has a blue block and the left hand has a pink block. Next, you ask your friend to shuffle the two blocks while you turn your back towards them, or you ask your friend to do the shuffling with his hands behind his back so as to ensure that you are unable to see if the blocks are being shuffled for real or not.
Now, your friend would again show you the blocks and ask you to identify if the blocks were actually shuffled or not. Since you are able to distinguish the two blocks, you give the correct answer; that is, if the right hand has a blue block and the left hand has a pink block means that the blocks were never shuffled and vice versa.
On the other hand, if your friend does this numerous times, ultimately, the likelihood of you accurately predicting whether they swapped the blocks or not should be quite low. This is because you will have had many opportunities to practice. Your companion will be able to confirm that perhaps the blocks were distinct colors thanks to this, even though he or she will be unaware of the blocks’ true hues.
To allow the validation of a mathematical assertion in real-world applications of ZKPs, a set of cryptographic methods are therefore utilized. These methods are employed to create a hash. For example, a receiver of a transaction may use ZKP techniques to authenticate that perhaps the payer has an appropriate balance in their financial institution without gaining any further knowledge about the payer’s amount. This is possible because ZKP encrypts the communication sent between the two parties.
Remember the one time you visited your bank and wanted to withdraw some amount of cash? You asked the bank man to give you the cash. However, the banker verified your account and made sure that you had the required cash in your account. He authenticates it, and you get your money. However, you see, the banker still wasn’t able to see the total account balance you had. That’s the best example of ZKP!
What are the Applications of Zero-Knowledge Proofs in Blockchain?
Users that seek control and independence over their material might benefit from ZKPs since they offer sovereignty and flexibility. Consequently, it is not surprising that when coupled, blockchain technology and zero-knowledge proofs may serve a variety of purposes.
The implementation of zero-knowledge proofs all across a decentralized public infrastructure in which value is moved is a significant technological accomplishment. It is a remarkable achievement that must not be disregarded because users now have the potential to conduct entirely anonymous transaction processing while using a chain of a system that is literally accessible to everyone.
Due to the one-of-a-kind character of zero-knowledge proofs, they may be used in a broad range of contexts. They are very useful for authenticating users and maintaining confidentiality, in addition to providing an encrypted connection between two parties.
The ability to conduct anonymous transactions is the technology that is most important to digital currencies, or I would say that’s the basis of it, and so, ZKP might tremendously favor them. Their blockchain application is already increasing, with known brands like ZCash and Zerocoin already employing some type of zero-knowledge proofs. Crucially, these virtual currencies hide the specifics of transactions that take place on accessible blockchain systems by using ZKP’s strong security structure.
Users are able to securely communicate complicated information using the combination of ZKPs and blockchain. ZKPs have the capability of encrypting data in fragments; this gives users the ability to manage particular blocks as well as the information that can be accessed, therefore getting accessibility toward certain individuals while denying it to some.
This way, ZKPs can be used to restrict the number of people getting their paws on essential data, which is a big step towards security. If you believe that your company might gain advantages from database ownership and increased security, it’s best if you use ZKPs for various blockchain-backed technologies. You’d be in a lot of benefit for sure.
Authentication methods are another notable use of technology that is becoming more widespread. If you want to show that you know something secret, like a password, but you don’t want to physically disclose the password, you may use zero-knowledge proof to prove your ownership of the subject matter. Zero-knowledge proofs are often too complicated to be practical when dealing with only passwords; nevertheless, in the long run, this might prove to be quite beneficial for securing user credentials over the world wide web, which we all know is a place where intruders abide.
In the context of personal identification, zero-knowledge proofs may also be used. To keep things straightforward, if you want to enter a high-security building via a door, you will either require a personal identification number (PIN) or a valid identification card, without which you won’t be allowed to walk pass the door.
A breach in security exists due to the fact that the element of the door that authenticates users is susceptible to manipulation, which might lead to the disclosure of the access PIN and any criminal getting access to the building. In a zero-knowledge proof, an integer x might be included in the constituent as an added security layer.
End-to-end encryption has been a significant contributor to the development of a system that enables the confidential transmission of a communication, such as ZKPs. Traditional communication programs, on the other hand, demand that their users authenticate their identities to a central server, which is a security breach for many apparent reasons. A client may demonstrate their identification with the use of ZKPs without having to provide any more personally identifiable information.
Talking about blockchains, in particular, the use of blockchain technology is not without its share of benefits and drawbacks. Despite the fact that, at first glance, it seems to have a great deal of promise, there is, in fact, a significant number of security stigmas attached to it. In light of these flaws, the development of ZKP is nevertheless being slowed down. Circumstances have begun to transform nevertheless, thanks to the implementation of the zero-knowledge structure, also known as the savior in full regalia.
Importance of Zero-Knowledge Proof System
By a significant margin, zero-knowledge proof has shown that it is competent in the management of several businesses and organizations, which particularly emphasizes user security. The public ledger approach, in which anybody can monitor your activities, is not universally well received by everybody as all your operations are open to the general public. There’s no doubt that the current privacy standard is not sufficient to protect the vast amounts of sensitive information that public ledgers handle, and thus, they necessitate the need for a ZKP system.
Zero-knowledge proofs not only have the potential to advance blockchain technology but also possess the ability to eliminate all of its problems. Despite the fact that blockchain technology is an impressive innovation, many businesses are not enthusiastic about using it. As ZKP would make the existing situation better, the answer is yes; this latest mechanism is undeniably a crucial component that should be integrated into blockchain technology. Everyone had been waiting for blockchain to become a highly secure infrastructure, and now it finally can.
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