October 25, 2021


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A Tree-based Construction for Verifiable Diplomas with Issuer Transparency. (arXiv:2109.11590v1 [cs.CR])

Still to this day, academic credentials are primarily paper-based, and the
process to verify the authenticity of such documents is costly, time-consuming,
and prone to human error and fraud. Digitally signed documents facilitate a
cost-effective verification process. However, vulnerability to fraud remains
due to reliance on centralized authorities that lack full transparency. In this
paper, we present the mechanisms we designed to create secure and
machine-verifiable academic credentials. Our protocol models a diploma as an
evolving set of immutable credentials. The credentials are built as a
tree-based data structure with linked time-stamping, where portions of
credentials are distributed over a set of smart contracts. Our design prevents
fraud of diplomas and eases the detection of degree mills, while increasing the
transparency and trust in the issuer’s procedures. Our evaluation shows that
our solution offers a certification system with strong cryptographic security
and imposes a high level of transparency of the certification process. We
achieve these benefits with acceptable costs compared to existing solutions
that lack such transparency.