[Resource Topic] 2022/1729: Acsesor: A New Framework for Auditable Custodial Secret Storage and Recovery

Welcome to the resource topic for 2022/1729

Acsesor: A New Framework for Auditable Custodial Secret Storage and Recovery

Authors: Melissa Chase, Hannah Davis, Esha Ghosh, Kim Laine


Custodial secret management services provide a convenient centralized user experience, portability, and emergency recovery for users who cannot reliably remember or store their own credentials and cryptographic keys. Unfortunately, these benefits are only available when users compromise the security of their secrets and entrust them to a third party. This makes custodial secret management service providers ripe targets for exploitation, and exposes valuable and sensitive data to data leaks, insider attacks, and password cracking, among other dangers.

Several password managers and cryptocurrency wallets today utilize non-custodial solutions, where their users are in charge of a high-entropy secret, such as a cryptographic secret key or a long passphrase, that controls access to their data. One can argue that these solutions have a stronger security model, as the service provider no longer constitutes a single point of trust. However, the obvious downside is that it is very difficult for people to store cryptographic secrets reliably, making emergency recovery a serious problem. 

We present Acsesor: a new framework for auditable custodial secret management with decentralized trust. Our framework offers a middle-ground between a fully custodial (centralized) and fully non-custodial (user-managed/distributed) recovery system: it enhances custodial recovery systems with cryptographically assured access monitoring and a distributed trust assumption. In particular, the Acsesor framework distributes the recovery process across a set of (user-chosen) guardians. However, the user is never required to interact directly with the guardians during recovery, which allows us to retain the high usability of centralized custodial solutions. Additionally, Acsesor retains the strong resilience guarantees that custodial systems provide against fraud attacks. Finally, by allowing the guardians to implement flexible user-chosen response policies, Acsesor can address a broad range of problem scenarios in classical secret management solutions. For example, a slow recovery policy, where the guardians wait for a predefined time until responding, can replace the cumbersome passphrases many cryptocurrency wallets implement today for emergency recovery.

We also instantiate the Acsesor framework with a base protocol built of standard primitives: standard encryption schemes and privacy-preserving transparency ledgers. Our construction requires no persistent storage from its users and supports an expansive array of configuration options and extensions.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2022/1729

See all topics related to this paper.

Feel free to post resources that are related to this paper below.

Example resources include: implementations, explanation materials, talks, slides, links to previous discussions on other websites.

For more information, see the rules for Resource Topics .