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McFly: Verifiable Encryption to the Future Made Practical

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conference contribution
posted on 2024-03-20, 10:29 authored by Nico DöttlingNico Döttling, Lucjan HanzlikLucjan Hanzlik, Bernardo Magri, Stella WohnigStella Wohnig
Blockchain protocols have revolutionized how individuals and devices interact and transact over the internet. More recently, a trend has emerged to harness blockchain technology as a catalyst to enable advanced security features in distributed applications, in particular fairness. However, the tools employed to achieve these security features are either resource wasteful (e.g., time-lock primitives) or only efficient in theory (e.g., witness encryption). We present McFly, a protocol that allows one to efficiently “encrypt a message to the future” such that the receiver can efficiently decrypt the message at the right time. At the heart of the McFly protocol lies a novel primitive that we call signature-based witness encryption (SWE). In a nutshell, SWE allows to encrypt a plaintext with respect to a tag and a set of signature verification keys. Once a threshold multi-signature of this tag under a sufficient number of these verification keys is released, this signature can be used to efficiently decrypt an SWE ciphertext for this tag. We design and implement a practically efficient SWE scheme in the asymmetric bilinear setting. The McFly protocol, which is obtained by combining our SWE scheme with a BFT blockchain (or a blockchain finality layer) enjoys a number of advantages over alternative approaches: There is a very small computational overhead for all involved parties, the users of McFly do not need to actively maintain the blockchain, are neither required to communicate with the committees, nor are they required to post on the blockchain. To demonstrate the practicality of the McFly protocol, we implemented our SWE scheme and evaluated it on a standard laptop with Intel i7 @2,3 GHz.



Baldimtsi F ; Cachin C

Primary Research Area

  • Algorithmic Foundations and Cryptography

Name of Conference

Financial Cryptography and Data Security (FC)


FC (1)



Page Range



Springer Nature

Open Access Type

  • Not Open Access


@inproceedings{Döttling:Hanzlik:Magri:Wohnig:2024, title = "McFly: Verifiable Encryption to the Future Made Practical", author = "Döttling, Nico" AND "Hanzlik, Lucjan" AND "Magri, Bernardo" AND "Wohnig, Stella", editor = "Baldimtsi, Foteini" AND "Cachin, Christian", year = 2024, month = 1, journal = "FC (1)", pages = "252--269", publisher = "Springer Nature", issn = "1611-3349", doi = "10.1007/978-3-031-47754-6_15" }