I want Alice and Bob to communicate a message without their answers influencing each other. More formally:

  • Alice wants to send Bob a message, a.
  • Bob wants to send Alice a message, b.
  • But Alice must not know b before sending a
  • And Bob must not know a before sending b.


I was thinking I could have:

  • Alice sends an encrypted message, f(a, p1) = a', and a hash with the original message and the private key, h(a, p1).
  • Bob also sends an encrypted message, f(b, p2) = b' and hash, h(b, p2).
  • Alice and Bob exchange private keys once they have received their messages
  • They decrypt the received messages and verify the hash matches

Is there any problems with this method? Would it be feasible for Alice to construct a p' that causes the message to be decrypted as something other than a yet still satisfy the hashing function? (assuming cryptographically secure f and h)

Are there more commonly accepted ways to do this?

previously posted in security stack exchange but was told it'd be more appropriate here

up vote 1 down vote accepted

What you want is a commitment scheme.
Typically these are a pair of functions $c(m), v(c,m')$ where the first creates a commitment (while not leaking information on $m$) and the latter verifies a commitment against a message.

Let $c(\cdot)$ be such a committing algorithm, then you can use the following protocol:

\begin{align} A\to B:\quad &c(a)\\ B\to A:\quad &b\\ A\to B:\quad &a \end{align}

In this case, A doesn't know $b$ when sending $a$, and B doesn't know $a$ when sending $b$. When A then sends $a$, B can verify that this $a$ is indeed the $a$, A commited to earlier and thus that it wasn't chosen in dependence of $b$.

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