In Shamir's secret sharing scheme, Dealer performs the following steps

  1. Choose a prime number $q$ such that $q > n$

  2. Choose a secret $s$ from finite field $\mathbb{Z}_q$

  3. Choose $t-1$ degree polynomial

$$g(x)=s+c_1x+c_2x^2+\cdots +c_{t-1}x^{t-1}$$

  1. Compute shares $s_i = g(id_i) \mod q \text{ for } i=1,2, \cdots,n$ and sends secretly to participants

  2. At least threshold number of participants can reconstruct secret by using Lagranges interpolation formula

My doubt is:

Instead of step 4 mentioned above, if we write without $\mod q$ as shown below then what will happen?

  1. Compute shares $s_i = g(id_i) , i=1,2, \cdots,n$.

Is there any advantage to use $\mod q$ over naive method (without using modulo)? If yes, is it security or computational complexity or any other?


1 Answer 1


Is there any advantage to use $\bmod q$ over naïve method (without using modulo)? If yes, is it security or computational complexity or any other?

Yes; doing things $\bmod q$ does have the practical advantage that the shares are bounded length; computing the shares in $\mathbb{Z}$ can potentially have us send rather long values (as the values there don't have an upper bound).

However there are also security concerns:

  • Revealing the shares in $\mathbb{Z}$ leaks information; for example, suppose someone knows the share $(x, y)$ for $x=2$ that corresponds to a secret $z$. That is, he is given a value $y = a_n2^n + a_{n-1} 2^{n-1} + ... + a_12^1 + z$. Now, the nonconstant terms are all even; hence if they see that $y$ is odd, that means that $z$ must also be odd; that is, we just leaked the lsbit. Extending this observation shows that a share $(x, y)$ reveals the value of $z \bmod x$. A similar observation shows that two shares $(x_0, y_0)$, $(x_1, y_1)$ also reveals $z \bmod x_0 - x_1$. This is in contrast to the standard Shamir Secret Sharing, which has no such leakage.

  • Shamir assumes that the secret coefficients $a_n, a_{n-1}, ..., a_1$ are chosen uniformly. However, it turns out to be impossible to select uniformly randomly from a set of size $\aleph_0$ (which the set of integers is), that is, any selection method must necessarily be biased. And, depending on what the distribution is, this bias will also leak further information.

BTW: Shamir Secret Sharing isn't necessarily done modulo a large prime; it can be implemented over any finite field. In practice, we often use even characteristic fields, such as $GF(2^8)$ or $GF(2^{128})$; the security is the same, but it has the practical advantage of everything fitting in an integral number of bytes.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's also worth mentioning that Shamir sharing doesn't work mod $q$ when $q$ is composite. In that case, reconstructing the secret via the Lagrange interpolation formula will fail (Lagrange requires division at some point and division doesn't always work modulo a composite). And indeed, not every set of $d$ points will have a degree $<d$ polynomial hitting them; and some sets of $d$ points will have more than one polynomial hitting them. $\endgroup$
    – Mikero
    Jul 23, 2021 at 21:49

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