Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Information Technology and Computer Science


For a secure communication through the public network, cryptographic encryption must be applied. The key establishment issue is the most important part in cryptographic encryption. Only the legitimate principals who have the key can encrypt messages and decrypt cryptograms. A secure multi-party communication held through the public network can only take place after a multi-party key establishment protocol has been executed. The multi-party key establishment protocol is designed so that the principals can receive a common key and use it to securely exchange the messages.

In this thesis, the secure multi-party key establishment protocols are discussed. W e start from investigating properties of two-party key establishment protocols such as motivation of using session key, adversaries in the protocols, attacks of the protocol and security analysis of the protocol. Then we give the requirements of a multi-party key establishment protocol and summarize about what should be considered in designing a multi-party key establishment protocol. After that we review some of the previous proposed multi-party key establishment protocol. The existing multi-party key establishment protocols are either impractical ( not efficient enough) or missing some important security goals such as authentication of principals. Three new protocols are proposed in this thesis. The first protocol addresses how to hold a conference for members of two hierarchical groups in an efficient way. The message broadcasting is used to reduce the cost of secure message transport.

The second and the third protocols manage the authentication problem by using a secret sharing scheme. We replace the principal authentication with the group authentication so that the computational overhead and communication overhead will be reduced especially in reuse of the protocol for new communication. Again, message broadcasting is used for replacing the expansive secure communication channel.

Part of this thesis appeared in ACSC'99(Australian Computer Science Conference) and ACISP'99(Australian Conference of Information Security and Privacy).