Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis (Undergraduate)


Department of Computer Science

First Advisor

Robert H. Morris, Sr.


Existing client-authentication protocols deployed on the World Wide Web today are based on conventional distributed systems and fail to address the problems specific to the application domain. Some of the protocols restrict the mobility of the client by equating user identity to a machine or network address, others depend on sound password management strategies, and yet others compromise the privacy of the user by transmitting personal information for authentication. We introduce a new framework for client-authentication by separating two goals that current protocols achieve simultaneously: 1. Maintain persistent sense of identity across different sessions. 2. Prove facts about the user to the site. These problems are independent, in the sense that any protocol for solving the first problem can be combined with any protocol for solving the second. Separation of the two purposes opens up the possibility of designing systems which balance two conflicting goals, authentication and anonymity. We propose a solution to the first problem, based on the Digital Signature Standard. The implications of this framework from the point of view of user privacy are examined. The paper is concluded with suggestions for integrating the proposed scheme into the existing WWW architecture.


Originally posted in the Dartmouth College Computer Science Technical Report Series, number PCS-TR98-328.