Tracing traitors

Benny Chor, Amos Fiat, Moni Naor, Benny Pinkas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

231 Scopus citations


We give cryptographic schemes that help trace the source of leaks when sensitive or proprietary data is made available to a large set of parties. A very relevant application is in the context of pay television, where only paying customers should be able to view certain programs. In the application, the programs are normally encrypted, and then the sensitive data is the decryption keys that are given to paying customers. If a pirate decoder is found, it is desirable to reveal the source of its decryption keys. We describe fully resilient schemes which can be used against any decoder which decrypts with nonnegligible probability. Since there is typically little demand for decoders which decrypt only a small fraction of the transmissions (even if it is nonnegligible), we further introduce threshold tracing schemes which can only be used against decoders which succeed in decryption with probability greater than some threshold. Threshold schemes are considerably more efficient than fully resilient schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)893-910
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2000
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Manuscript received March 29, 1998; revised November 28, 1999. The work of B. Chor was supported by the Fund for Promotion of Research at the Tech-nion. The work of M. Naor was supported under a grant from the Israel Science Foundation administered by the Israeli Academy of Sciences and by an Alon Fellowship. The work of B. Pinkas was supported by an Eshkol Fellowship from the Israeli Ministry of Science. The material in this paper was presnted in part at Crypto’94 and Crypto’98.


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