Centralization leads to security, usability, and privacy problems. This paper shows that the problems of centralized directory systems like DNS and PKIK can be addressed through the use of decentralized directories like the blockchain to create a distributed PKI (DPKI).
Today’s Internet places control of online identities into the hands of third-parties. Email addresses, usernames, and website domains are borrowed or "rented" through DNS, X.509, and social networks. This results in severe usability and security challenges Internet-wide. This paper describes a possible alternate approach called decentralized public key infrastructure (DPKI), which returns control of online identities to the entities they belong to. By doing so, DPKI addresses many usability and security challenges that plague traditional public key infrastructure (PKI). DPKI has advantages at each stage of the PKI life cycle. It makes permissionless bootstrapping of online identities possible and provides for the simple creation of stronger SSL certificates. In usage, it can help “Johnny” to finally encrypt thanks to its relegation of public key management to secure decentralized datastores. Finally, it includes mechanisms to recover lost or compromised identifiers.
This paper was prepared by (alphabetical by last name) Christopher Allen, Arthur Brock, Vitalik Buterin, Jon Callas, Duke Dorje, Christian Lundkvist, Pavel Kravchenko, Jude Nelson, Drummond Reed, Markus Sabadello, Greg Slepak, Noah Thorp, and Harlan T Wood as part of the Rebooting the Web of Trust project.