Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Anonymously Establishing Digital  Provenance in Reseller Chains

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Version 3 2023-03-14, 23:30
Version 2 2023-03-13, 23:58
Version 1 2021-11-12, 12:15
posted on 2021-11-12, 12:15 authored by Palmer, Benjamin Philip

An increasing number of products are exclusively digital items, such as media files, licenses, services, or subscriptions. In many cases customers do not purchase these items directly from the originator of the product but through a reseller instead. Examples of some well known resellers include GoDaddy, the iTunes music store, and Amazon. This thesis considers the concept of provenance of digital items in reseller chains. Provenance is defined as the origin and ownership history of an item. In the context of digital items, the origin of the item refers to the supplier that created it and the ownership history establishes a chain of ownership from the supplier to the customer. While customers and suppliers are concerned with the provenance of the digital items, resellers will not want the details of the transactions they have taken part in made public. Resellers will require the provenance information to be anonymous and unlinkable to prevent third parties building up large amounts of information on the transactions of resellers. This thesis develops security mechanisms that provide customers and suppliers with assurances about the provenance of a digital item, even when the reseller is untrusted, while providing anonymity and unlinkability for resellers . The main contribution of this thesis is the design, development, and analysis of the tagged transaction protocol. A formal description of the problem and the security properties for anonymously providing provenance for digital items in reseller chains are defined. A thorough security analysis using proofs by contradiction shows the protocol fulfils the security requirements. This security analysis is supported by modelling the protocol and security requirements using Communicating Sequential Processes (CSP) and the Failures Divergences Refinement (FDR) model checker. An extended version of the tagged transaction protocol is also presented that provides revocable anonymity for resellers that try to conduct a cloning attack on the protocol. As well as an analysis of the security of the tagged transaction protocol, a performance analysis is conducted providing complexity results as well as empirical results from an implementation of the protocol.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Computer Science

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Engineering and Computer Science


Bubendorfer, Kris; Welch, Ian