Uncircumventable enforcement of privacy policies via cryptographic obfuscation

Arvind Narayanan, Vitaly Shmatikov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Obfuscation, when used as a technical term, refers to hiding information “in plain sight” inside computer code or digital data. The history of obfuscation in modern computing can be traced to two events that took place in 1976. The first was the publication of Diffie and Hellman’s seminal paper on public-key cryptography [DH76]. This paper is famous, of course, for introducing the first (or, at any rate, first publicly known) public-key cryptosystem. It also appears to be the first paper to describe software obfuscation. Diffie and Hellman suggested that making the encryption program incomprehensible might be a good way of converting a symmetric cryptosystem into a public-key one. Such a program would be an example of “white-box” cryptography because it would remain secure-in the sense that it would be hard for the adversary to invert the encryption function or to extract the symmetric key from it-even if the program were executed on a computer completely controlled by the adversary. This was the first instance of obfuscation for “white-box” cryptography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationDigital Privacy
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Technologies, and Practices
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781420052183
ISBN (Print)9781420052176
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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