The world is becoming increasingly information oriented. Electronic technologies have prevailed in every aspect of our daily lives. Therefore, concerns about data privacy are rising.
As we discussed in our last article Zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) demonstrates the possession of specific knowledge or information without revealing it. It allows one party (the prover) to prove to another party (the verifier) that they know a particular piece of information without revealing any information about that piece of information itself.
An excellent use case for ZKP is when someone applies for a loan. Whatever the load is, you have to provide asset documentation. Usually, these documents consist of personal identification, like a driver’s license, social security card or passport, proof of income, employment details, and residence details, such as an address or lease agreement.
Some lenders also run a credit check to see if you can return the debt or how far you are behind on a bill. Is it reasonable to give such extensive personal details to a lender which may or may not approve your request? How will the lender process or use this data? What if a malicious actor targets the company and your data fall into the wrong hands?
This is where ZKP comes in; Enterprises and loan creditors can verify your assets without knowing any specific details.
Moreover, zero knowledge has been at the vanguard of advancing privacy and security solutions for blockchains and Web3, allowing individuals to access a world of personalized web services without giving up control of their private data. A fantastic idea emerges, but how feasible is it in practice?
ZKP can be used daily by enabling secure authentication and identity verification. For example, a user could prove that they are over a certain age without revealing their exact age or prove that they own a specific bank account without revealing the account balance. This could be useful when someone needs to verify their identity but wants to keep personal information private. However, scalability is always a challenging issue.
Specifying more resources for research and development of the ZKP department and accelerating the compilers that are implementing ZKP would ease their practicality in real-life scenarios for non-developer users who are willing to keep control over their data but not willing to lose time with generating long and inefficient proofs.
Encryption in messaging applications is of utmost importance so that no one can read your messages except the client receiving them. Both clients have to establish trust with the server without revealing their identities. ZKP can handle such processes efficiently, and no one would be able to hack into messaging apps.
In today’s transactions, sharing data across the internet without any third-party eye is extremely important. No matter what network or platform you choose to share your data, there are always some risks; This is another excellent use case for ZKPs.
ZKP also provides excellent protection for data storage. Protocols used in ZKP enable it to encrypt data and storage units. In such cases, even access channels can be heavily guarded. Nevertheless, how probable is it for a non-developer user to manually generate proofs by entering the data?
Automation is another solution for bringing zero-knowledge proofs to our daily lives. Developing protocols that use zero-knowledge proofs as a black box running inside the apps installed in the phones without any extra burden for the users makes them more practical. The more automation is implemented in ZKP-based protocols, the more user-friendly they become.
Lack of educational resources in the industry for people with no maths and programming knowledge can be a fundamental reason behind the non-practicality of the zero-knowledge proofs. The published tutorials by protocols and companies for anyone to educate themselves are usually long, confusing, and require a professional mathematical background to understand fully. So, practical zero-knowledge use cases can eliminate this education barrier and demonstrate how zero-knowledge applications can be used in our daily lives.
In soonami, we offer a zero-knowledge proof-based protocol as a powerful tool for demonstrating the possession of defined criteria in a secure and privacy-preserving manner. Our solutions are fully automated and efficient to be applied in a wide range of settings to improve security and privacy in both personal and professional contexts.
Authored by: Mina Namazi, Applied Cryptographer at soonami.io