Zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) is a cryptographic concept that allows one party to prove to another party that they know a secret value without revealing the value itself or any other information. In simpler terms, a zero-knowledge proof is a way to prove that you know something without revealing what you know.
ZKP was originally proposed by MIT researchers Shafi Goldwasser, Silvio Micali and Charles Rackoff in the 1980s.
Let’s understand with an example. Say, a person ‘XYZ’ owns an online retail store selling luxury goods. One of the customers wants to buy a high-end watch from the store, but they are concerned about its authenticity. They want proof that the watch is authentic before purchasing.
One could use zero-knowledge proof to prove to the customer that the watch is authentic without revealing sensitive information about the watch or the supply chain. Here’s how it might work;
- Take a photo of the watch and upload it to your website.
- Use zero-knowledge proof to prove to the customer that you have verified the watch’s authenticity.
- The customer can use the zero-knowledge proof to verify that the watch is authentic without revealing any sensitive information.
Relevancy For Marketers
In today’s world, ZKP is becoming increasingly relevant due to the growing importance of online security and privacy. As of January 2023, there were 5.16 billion internet users worldwide, which is 64.4% of the global population. With this widespread use of the internet and digital devices, there is a greater need to protect sensitive information and personal data from cyber-attacks and online threats. ZKP verifies identity, ownership, and transactions without revealing additional information that hackers or cybercriminals could exploit.
ZKP also plays a key role in blockchain technology by enabling users to prove ownership of digital assets without revealing any identifying information. This gives users a higher level of security and privacy, essential in a digital landscape where cyber attacks are getting sophisticated and prevalent.
ZKP finds another application in secure data storage. It can store sensitive information, such as medical records or financial data, without revealing it to anyone without the appropriate access. This can help protect against data breaches and other security risks that can result in the theft of valuable data.
In addition to its practical applications, ZKP is also used to address ethical concerns around data privacy and surveillance. As more and more data is collected and stored by governments and private companies, there is a growing need to protect individuals’ privacy and ensure that their data is used appropriately. It also provides a way to verify certain claims without revealing additional information, which can help prevent unauthorised access to sensitive data.
ZKP can help marketers with;
- Enhanced Customer Trust: By using ZKP to prove that sensitive customer data is handled securely and confidentially, marketers can build trust with their customers and improve their brand reputation.
- Improved Data Security: The method can authenticate users without revealing their passwords, thereby improving data security and reducing the risk of data breaches.
- Better Personalisation: It can be used to verify that a customer meets certain criteria (such as age or income) without revealing specific details about the customer’s personal information. This can enable marketers to provide customers with more personalised content and offers without violating their privacy.
- Increased Data Sharing: ZKP can securely share data between different parties without revealing sensitive information, enabling marketers to collaborate more effectively and share valuable insights without compromising privacy.
On The Flip Sid
Zero Knowledge Proof is not devoid of limitations. It can be computationally intensive, leading to slow performance in certain applications. Further, ZKP requires both parties to have a shared understanding of the underlying protocol, making it’s implementation complicated in some contexts. While ZKP can help protect sensitive information, it cannot protect against all types of attacks, such as attacks that compromise the integrity of the data.
Despite certain limitations, ZKP has the potential to provide marketers with greater flexibility and control over how they handle and share sensitive customer data while also improving data security and building customer trust.