Enabling secure distributed computations: semi-trusted hosts and mobile agents

Ref: Gregory Neven, Erik Van Hoeymissen, Bart De Decker, and Frank Piessens. Networking and Information Systems Journal, 3:1-18, 2000.

Abstract: Secure distributed computing addresses the problem of performing a computation with a number of mutually distrustful participants, in such a way that each of the participants has only limited access to the information needed for doing the computation. Over the past two decades, a number of solutions requiring no trusted third party have been developed using cryptographic techniques. The disadvantage of these cryptographic solutions is the excessive communication overhead they incur.

In this paper, we use mobile agents employing these cryptographic techniques to provide for a trade-off between communication overhead and trust. We solve the communication overhead problem by using mobile agents to execute the cryptographic protocols and running these agents on hosts that are close to each other. Of course, a mobile agent needs to trust his execution platform, but we show that the trust requirements in this case are much lower than for a classical trusted third party. As a practical case study, we look at the implementation of a second price auction.