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SCPKI: A Smart Contract-based PKI And Identity System

Mustafa Al-Bassam
Published 2017 · Business

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The Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) in use today on the Internet to secure communications has several drawbacks arising from its centralised and non-transparent design. In the past there has been instances of certificate authorities publishing rogue certificates for targeted attacks, and this has been difficult to immediately detect as certificate authorities are not transparent about the certificates they issue. Furthermore, the centralised selection of trusted certificate authorities by operating system and browser vendors means that it is not practical to untrust certificate authorities that have issued rogue certificates, as this would disrupt the TLS process for many other hosts. SCPKI is an alternative PKI system based on a decentralised and transparent design using a web-of-trust model and a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain, to make it easily possible for rogue certificates to be detected when they are published. The web-of-trust model is designed such that an entity or authority in the system can verify (or vouch for) fine-grained attributes of another entity's identity (such as company name or domain name), as an alternative to the centralised certificate authority identity verification model.
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