The following discussion helps you find out all your answers about ZKP (Zero Knowledge Proofs) alongside their implications for improving security. 

The world is gradually becoming more and more information-oriented. Every move of an individual in a day depends a lot on the information they see and send. As a matter of fact, digital technologies have pervaded almost every aspect of our lives. So, how safe is it to share your personal information with someone or conduct a sensitive transaction? Concerns in cybersecurity and the continuously escalating incidents of cyber-attacks present the need for developing new, competent alternatives.

At this point, you can wonder about opting for zero-knowledge proof security as a favorable alternative. However, it is also reasonable to consider the feasibility of zero-knowledge proof as a vital tool for transforming security.

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Introduction to ZKPs

Before diving into the details of ZKP security, it is important to understand the technology first. A clear impression of zero knowledge proofs and their working, as well as variants, can offer a foundation for understanding their role in transforming security. Zero-knowledge proof is nothing more than a mathematical algorithm or protocol.

The blockchain protocol offers a favorable way for provers to convince the verifiers about possessing certain information without revealing it. For example, the prover can convince the verifier that they are aware of the bank balance in their account without revealing their personal information. Zero knowledge proof security applications wouldn’t have gained prominence if not for blockchain technology.

The widespread applications of ZKP in blockchain ecosystem have recently established the significance of zero knowledge proofs in cryptographic hashing. ZKP has been considered as one of the fascinating concepts implemented in cryptography with wide-ranging applications. They can support secure transactions across public networks or even find applications in nuclear disarmament.

Therefore, it would be reasonable to say that zero knowledge proof is a formidable reflection of outcomes from cryptographic innovation. When you look at ZKP security, you cannot fail to notice the fundamental aspect of zero knowledge proofs for security. Zero knowledge proofs rely primarily on the principle of refraining from revealing any information or other associated information to prove ownership of the concerned information.

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Important Parameters of ZKPs

The next important factor on the mind of readers regarding zero knowledge proof security would refer to its working. It is possible to find out about the working of zero knowledge proof by reflecting on the parameters of ZKP. The foremost parameter in zero knowledge proofs refers to completeness.

Completeness clearly indicates that the honest prover could convince the honest verifier about a fact in event of true statements. The next aspect in zero knowledge proofs refers to soundness. Soundness implies that a cheating prover could not convince an honest verifier about the truth of a fact if the statement is false.

The final parameter in zero knowledge proofs is a characterizing element for this protocol. As a matter of fact, ZKP security depends a lot on the ‘zero knowledge’ factor. Most important of all, you can find completeness and soundness as the common traits in common interactive proof systems. It is the ‘zero knowledge’ factor that separates zero knowledge proof from other systems.

Another important aspect to understand about zero knowledge proof security refers to the fact that they are not actually mathematical proofs. Zero knowledge proofs also have an excessively small probability known as the soundness error. The soundness error implies that a cheating prover could convince a verifier that a false statement is true. So, zero-knowledge proofs should be considered as probabilistic proofs and not deterministic proofs. On the other hand, there are many undergoing efforts for reducing the soundness error to extremely small values.

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Working on Zero Knowledge Proof

With an impression of basic parameters underlying zero knowledge proof, readers can move towards its working. The working of zero knowledge proof can provide a detailed impression of ZKP based blockchain security effectiveness. In order to find out about the working of zero knowledge proofs, let us take note of their general structure. You can find three different actions in order for zero knowledge proof between two participants in a transaction. The three different actions include witness, challenge, and response. Let us find out what each action holds in store for zero knowledge proof.

  1. The first action in zero knowledge proof refers to witness. If the transaction takes place between A and B, then the fact that A has certain information is responsible for defining a set of questions. A could always answer the questions in the set without errors. So, A selects a question randomly from the set, followed by calculating a proof and then sending the proof to B.
  2. The second action in zero knowledge proof security is the challenge. In the challenge phase, B can select a question from the set and ask A to answer the question.
  3. The final action in the working of ZKP is the response in which A finds out the answer and transmits it back towards B. The answer received by B helps them in checking whether A actually knows the secret information. Now, users can repeat the three steps as many times as they want to reduce the probability of the prover making guesses rather than having knowledge of correct answers. Once done, blockchain records the transaction.

Wondering about the role of Zero Knowledge Proofs in Blockchain? Read here How Zero Knowledge Proofs Are Changing Blockchain?

Real Example of Zero Knowledge Proof Security 

Readers would still be eager to find out how ZKP security works in the real world. So, it is highly important to take examples of real-world companies using blockchain technology transactions based on zero knowledge proof. The real examples can help in understanding how the structure and parameters of ZKP ensure the desired outcomes of cryptography. Here is an example of John and Lizzie to show how zero knowledge proof security works.

The scenario in the example involves $100,000 prize money for any individual capable of identifying an algorithm to solve a particular form of a puzzle. Lizzie says that she knows such an algorithm. However, Lizzie does not want to disclose the algorithm as anyone else could use it for claiming the prize money.

Now, let us make the assumption that no one else other than Peggy knows about the algorithm to solve the puzzle. So, how can John verify that Lizzie actually knows the algorithm that can solve the prize puzzle? This is where John could turn towards zero knowledge proof as a solution. John could use ZKP for creating a random variation of the puzzle and then send it to Lizzie.

In this case, John does not know about the solution to the puzzle, although he can verify the correctness of Lizzie’s solution with ease. If Lizzie has the correct algorithm, then she can fill in the missing links of the puzzle and send the answer to John. Now, John could verify the answer of Lizzie and determine whether she has the algorithm or not.

  • Concerns Regarding ZKP

Although the example of John and Lizzie shows how ZKP security can play a crucial role in validating information authenticity, there are some inherent concerns. It is important to wonder about authenticity of the proof if Lizzie was guessing the answer or John is unconvinced about the answer. So, John could repeat the same exchange with Lizzie and send her another randomly generated puzzle.

As the cycle keeps on repeating consistently, Lizzie can prove that she knows the answer as her likelihood of guessing the correct answer reduce considerably. John can continue sending challenges to Lizzie until he is convinced about the truth of Lizzie’s claim. So, you can clearly note how zero knowledge proof security becomes prominently evident in the working of ZKPs.

In this example, John cannot find out how Lizzie is answering the puzzles, and Lizzie can send correct answers to John’s puzzles without giving away the algorithm. Therefore, ZKP ensures confidentiality of the algorithm, thereby showcasing how it can benefit security.

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Types of ZKPs

The impact of zero knowledge proof security can be evaluated only by reflecting on types of ZKPs. The different variants of ZKPs, such as interactive and non-interactive ZKPs, clearly showcase how the applications of ZKPs can vary. The types of ZKPs are different in terms of the difference in proof protocol.

As the name indicates, interactive ZKPs require a series of transactions between prover and verifier before validating information authenticity. Non-interactive ZKPs, on the other hand, don’t involve any series of interactions between parties involved in the transaction. However, the most important addition among the categories of ZKPs refers to ZK-SNARK or Succinct, Non-interactive, Arguments of Knowledge.

ZK-SNARK can offer a distinct approach for verifying the correctness of transactions without actually executing them. Users don’t have to disclose any secret information that could have been involved in the transactions. With various mathematical and hashing in cryptography mechanisms, the verifier could easily identify the correct execution of transactions with ZK-SNARK.

  • Impact of ZKPs on Security 

As you can observe clearly, ZKP security depends a lot on the basic structure and parameters in workings of ZKP. Zero knowledge proofs are one of the most prominent examples of cryptographic innovation, and they have started gaining recognition now. Although ZKPs is being considered primarily for blockchain applications, there are many other ways in which they can improve security. So, how can ZKPs ensure improved cybersecurity outcomes?

Modern computers could execute zero knowledge proofs through the repetition of a set of mathematical tests such as puzzle validation. The most fundamental highlight in ZKP directly refers to the lack of support for using any information sent across the network or in database storage for recreation of the secret.

As discussed in the example, it will be difficult to reverse-engineering the obscured answer of Lizzie for obtaining the original answer. The obscured answer of Lizzie is the outcome of a distinct class of one-way mathematical functions that you cannot solve with modern computing.

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Lower Likelihood of False Information   

The second factor that emphasizes zero knowledge proof security refers to the number of challenges or puzzles sent by the verifier. The number of puzzles or challenges helps the verifier in ensuring that the prover is less likely to guess the correct answer. For each iteration of the challenge, the prover shows that it is less likely that they could always provide the correct answer constantly in a row.

1. Refining the Authentication Process

The contribution of zero knowledge proofs in boosting security refers to their role in the authentication process. As a matter of fact, ZKPs can enable three different components in the authentication process. First of all, ZKP security relies on authentication with unknown or untrusted parties that depend on remote access. Secondly, zero knowledge proof can also support authentication that can run over untrusted channels. Furthermore, ZKPs also involves the relationship between the key derivation function or KDF and the exchange for certain case scenarios.

2. Reducing the Dependence on Passwords

Another potentially promising way in which zero knowledge proofs are slated to transform security refers to limited needs for passwords. There is no doubt that passwords are a crucial aspect of authentication purposes. However, passwords are slowly turning obsolete, and users perceive the need for improved solutions.

Zero knowledge protocols are somewhat difficult for people to understand, while almost any individual could enter a password. Since ZKP is a cryptographic protocol, it allows seamless working of devices among one another. On the other hand, the applications of ZKPs as replacements for passwords are still an ambiguous topic for humans. So, for the time being, a device may be responsible for implementing the protocol for you.

3. Enterprise Business Data Safeguards 

The importance of zero knowledge proof security could also gain attention to the importance of ZKP for enterprises implementing blockchain business operations. Enterprises don’t want to disclose sensitive information that is highly vulnerable to inappropriate access by competitors and hackers. In addition, businesses want to verify the secure delivery of information to intended parties.

Although basic blockchain infrastructures can struggle with this condition, ZKP can allow prominent advantages. ZKPs allow businesses to share proofs regarding the data without disclosing the data. As a result, it can lead to the development of a wide range of new variants of blockchain applications.

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4. Applications Across Multiple Industries

In the most general sense, the impact of zero knowledge proof security could also be visible in their impact on different industries. Basically, ZKP can be a crucial tool for influencing industries that rely on transactions, proprietary information, and identity systems.

Furthermore, ZKP could also serve as a verification, diligence, and security tool across industries with exceptionally high levels of regulations. Some of the examples of the industries where zero knowledge proofs can find reliable applications include retail firms, insurance, financial services, and audit firms. ZKP in blockchain for retail solutions can offer better inventory management, identity management and so on.

On the other hand, using ZKP in blockchain for insurance solutions can offer fraud detection and prevention, reinsurance and so on.

5. Improved Ethical Behavior

The applications of ZKP are also ideal for promoting ethical behavior, subsequently reflecting on improved securityZKP security in cryptography relies on enforcing honest behavior alongside ensuring the maintenance of privacy. The idea surrounding ethical behavior points out towards use of ZKP for forcing a user to prove the appropriateness of their behavior according to the protocol.

The soundness aspect in zero knowledge proof is also a promising factor that ensures the honest actions of users for providing valid proofs. At the same time, the zero knowledge aspect ensures that users don’t compromise the privacy of their secrets by providing proof.

6. Easier Verification of Personal Information

Zero knowledge proof security can also work wonders for applications where you want to verify personal information. Now, you don’t have to disclose your personal details to the bank for taking a loan. ZKPs can help you convince the bank about the minimum salary earnings for eligibility to take a loan. The allocation of cryptographic digital identity for users can allow simpler verification of personal information without disclosure.

7. Anonymity and Authentication Balance

Zero knowledge proofs are also known for providing the benefits of anonymity, thereby improving privacy. Users can conduct different transactions with ZKP while maintaining secrecy of their identity. At the same time, the authentication benefits associated with zero knowledge proofs also provide the perfect balance.

Although users are anonymous, transactions could be traced effectively while ensuring integrity of all user identities. As a matter of fact, authentication systems were the foremost factors for promoting research in ZKP proofs. The applications of ZKPs are suitable for situations where one party can prove their identity to the other party by secret information.

8. Better Confidentiality 

Most important of all, the dominance of zero knowledge proof security would also gain momentum on the grounds of confidentiality. ZKP is highly suitable for enterprise blockchain use cases that demand significant confidentiality. In the case of simple blockchains, the blockchain documents detailed information about transactions between users. As a result, modern businesses could maintain some details in obscurity for specific transactions. Zero knowledge proof is extremely helpful in hiding the transaction details while adding them to a new block on blockchains.

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So, you can notice how zero knowledge proof security will gain prominent recognition in the coming years. With ZKP, it is easier to verify information while maintaining information integrity. In addition, confidentiality, anonymity, and zero knowledge aspects in ZKPs ensure that they can safeguard any information effortlessly. However, the adoption of ZKPs would increase only with the radically growing applications of blockchain solutions.

Although ZKPs are productive for improving security, it is important to consider their mainstream applications. You can dive into the world of ZKPs with a reliable blockchain education and training platform right now. We, at 101 Blockchains, offer you a Zero Knowledge Proofs course to help you understand zero knowledge proofs from unique perspectives!

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*Disclaimer: The article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide any investment advice. Claims made in this article do not constitute investment advice and should not be taken as such. 101 Blockchains shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this article. Do your own research!