Traitor tracing describes an ability of specific cryptographic schemes that helps trace the source of leaks.

Traitor tracing describes an ability of specific cryptographic schemes that helps trace the source of leaks.

For example:

When intellectual properties are distributed over a broadcast network, the content is usually encrypted in a way such that only authorized users who have a certain set of keys, can decrypt the content.

Some authorized users may be willing to disclose their keys in constructing a pirate decoder which allows illegitimate users to access the content… and it is desirable to determine the source of the keys in a pirate decoder, once one is captured. That’s where traitor tracing schemes come in to solve the problem.

A traitor tracing scheme usually consists of:

  • a scheme to generate and distribute each user's personal key,
  • a cryptosystem used to protect session keys that are used to encrypt/decrypt the actual content, and
  • a tracing algorithm to determine the source of the keys used by the traitor (eg: in a pirate decoder).
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