Cross hashing: anonymizing encounters in decentralised contact tracing protocols

Vladimir Dyo, Junade Ali

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


During the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic, Contact Tracing emerged as an essential tool for managing the epidemic. App-based solutions have emerged for Contact Tracing, including a protocol designed by Apple and Google (influenced by an open-source protocol known as DP3T). This protocol contains two well-documented de-anonymisation attacks. Firstly that when someone is marked as having tested positive and their keys are made public, they can be tracked over a large geographic area for 24 hours at a time. Secondly, whilst the app requires a minimum exposure duration to register a contact, there is no cryptographic guarantee for this property. This means an adversary can scan Bluetooth networks and retrospectively find who is infected. We propose a novel ”cross hashing” approach to cryptographically guarantee minimum exposure durations. We further mitigate the 24-hour data exposure of infected individuals and reduce computational time for identifying if a user has been exposed using k-Anonymous buckets of hashes and Private Set Intersection. We empirically demonstrate that this modified protocol can offer like-for-like efficacy to the existing protocol.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe 35th International Conference on Information Networking (ICOIN)
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2021

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