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The Cocaine Auction Protocol:
On the Power of Anonymous Broadcast

Frank Stajano and Ross Anderson

Traditionally, cryptographic protocols are described as a sequence of steps, in each of which one principal sends a message to another. It is implicitly assumed that the fundamental communication primitive is necessarily one-to-one, and protocols addressing anonymity tend to resort to the composition of multiple elementary transmissions in order to frustrate traffic analysis.
This paper builds on a case study, of an anonymous auction between mistrustful principals with no trusted arbitrator, to introduce "anonymous broadcast" as a new protocol building block. This primitive is, in many interesting cases, a more accurate model of what actually happens during transmission. With certain restrictions it can give a particularly efficient implementation technique for many anonymity-related protocols.

Frank gave (an evolving version of) the Cocaine Auction talk on the following occasions:

Security seminar at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.
Informal short talk at the Friday security group meeting at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Cambridge, UK.
The full paper was accepted and presented at the 3rd International Workshop on Information Hiding, held in Dresden, Germany from 1999-09-29 to 1999-10-01. It appears in the proceedings, published in the Lecture Notes for Computer Science series and © Springer-Verlag . As allowed by the © agreement, it may also be downloaded from this page as PDF (with active links, 227 KB) or gzipped PostScript (179 KB).
Unplanned extension to my scheduled COMET seminar at Columbia University, New York City, NY, USA.

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