[Resource Topic] 2023/1575: SoK: Web3 Recovery Mechanisms

Welcome to the resource topic for 2023/1575

SoK: Web3 Recovery Mechanisms

Authors: Panagiotis Chatzigiannis, Konstantinos Chalkias, Aniket Kate, Easwar Vivek Mangipudi, Mohsen Minaei, Mainack Mondal


Account recovery enables users to regain access to their accounts when they lose their authentication credentials. While account recovery is well established and extensively studied in the Web2 (traditional web) context, Web3 account recovery presents unique challenges. In Web3, accounts rely on a (cryptographically secure) private-public key pair as their credential, which is not expected to be shared with a single entity like a server owing to security concerns. This makes account recovery in the Web3 world distinct from the Web2 landscape, often proving to be challenging or even impossible. As account recovery has proven crucial for Web2 authenticated systems, various solutions have emerged to address account recovery in the Web3 blockchain ecosystem in order to make it more friendly and accessible to everyday users, without “punishing” users if they make honest mistakes. This study systematically examines existing account recovery solutions within the blockchain realm, delving into their workflows, underlying cryptographic mechanisms, and distinct characteristics.
After highlighting the trilemma between usability, security, and availability encountered in the Web3 recovery setting, we systematize the existing recovery mechanisms across several axes which showcase those tradeoffs. Based on our findings, we provide a number of insights and future research directions in this field.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2023/1575

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