Why Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKP) will gain prominence in 2021?

22 Sep. 2021

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With centralized systems compromising on the security and protection of confidential data and bringing with them a threat of data breach and thefts, there was a genuine necessity of a technology that could eliminate this vulnerability and safeguard the integrity and sensitivity of data on the web. Enter Blockchain technology, and this issue of cybersecurity was sorted. With characteristics like transparency, immutability and decentralization, Blockchain successfully managed to preserve the required level of data privacy and emerged as a trustworthy solution for the secure exchange of information.

But the question is has Blockchain really succeeded in doing so? While Private or permissioned blockchains like Hyperledger, Quorum, Corda do maintain a tight level of security, public blockchains like still lack the necessary safety guards. Although the name of the users is unknown on a public blockchain using cryptographic techniques, it is still possible for others to view the transaction history of everybody on the network. (Read Types of Blockchains). A persistent hacker can take advantage of this vulnerability and can successfully attack the system.

“Blockchain provides utmost privacy and security, but doesn’t necessarily guarantee anonymity”.

There are several ways of achieving this anonymity like Coin mixing, but one that is gaining prominence and will continue to do so in the coming times, is Zero Knowledge Proof. Let us understand what Zero Knowledge Proof is and how it offers anonymity to Blockchain ledger transactions.

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What is Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP) ?

-Proposed by MIT researchers Silvio Micali, Shafi Goldwasser, and Charles Rackoff in the year 1985, Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP) is basically an encryption methodology.

-The ZKP method is based on the concept where the “Prover” proves that a particular statement is true to the “Verifier”. In this process, the prover does not broadcast any other extra information, thus protecting confidentiality and anonymity.

-A simple example of applying Zero Knowledge Proof (ZKP) could be user A wanting to know the bank balance of user B, but without having any access to B’s personal account. Here, verifier A requests for information and prover B reveals the information via a trusted third party sans any additional details or access.

Here is a detailed article on how Zero Knowledge Proofs actually work.

Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKP) are based on three important characteristics which are,

Completeness - If the statement is true and the prover succeeds in proving this to the verifier, the verifier is convinced.
Soundness - If the statement is false, there is no way that the prover can convince the verifier about its trueness.
Zero Knowledge - In any case whether the statement is true or false, the verifier should be oblivious to any other information apart from the statement being true or false.

characteristics of zero knowledge proofs

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Benefits of Zero Knowledge Proofs

Simplicity - Zero Knowledge Proofs do not involve any type of encryption methods to preserve the security of the data. They are in their simplest form without any complex mechanisms.

Security - ZKP provides complete security of data with regards to not revealing any kind of information that is irrelevant to the user. This helps in prevention of data thefts and cyber attacks.

Privacy & Scalability - Zero Knowledge Proofs offer the best possible ways to keep information private and confidential. Shortening of transactions makes the system scalable and fast.

Anonymity - ZKP, owing to its characteristics of completeness and soundness, preserve the anonymity of users and their transactions by communicating only the required amount of information.

benefits of zero knowledge proofs

Zero Knowledge Proofs will trend in 2021

Zero Knowledge Proofs (ZKP) are the perfect solution to Blockchain challenges. It would not be incorrect to say that Blockchain and ZKPs can go hand in hand and complete each other by nullifying each other’s drawbacks. From messengers to authentication of information to storage, there are plenty of use-cases where Blockchain and ZKP can work in tandem. Read this article on the applications of Zero Knowledge Proofs to know more.

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