If Alice wants to prove to Bob she is the holder of private key x, without exposing x, they can use the Schnorr identification protocol which has the public function sG = kG + exG and the private scalar function s = k +ex. In these functions, G is the static generator point, k is a hidden nonce chosen by Alice to protect x from being revealed to Bob, and e is a nonce chose by Bob so that he can trust kG (can't be calculated by someone pretending to hold x).

This all makes sense to me, but I am curious if there is a reason that e is multiplied with x instead of just following the same addition operator as k. So the equations would become sG = kG + eG + xG and s = k + e + x. k has a very valid reason to use addition, that is how x remains hidden. I can't think of a meaningful difference for the goal of the protocol if e is multiplied or added, maybe I missing a core concept?


1 Answer 1


This is trivial to forge.

Just to make sure we're on the same page, this is your protocol:

Alice has private key x, Bob has public key Q:

  • Alice generates k, computes R = kG, and sends R to Bob.
  • Bob generates e, and sends it to Alice.
  • Alice computes s = k + e + x, and sends it to Bob.
  • Bob verifies that sG = R + eG + Q.

Mallory is running your modified protocol with Bob, trying to pretend to be Alice.

  • Mallory generates a random k and sends R = kG - Q to Bob.
  • Bob generates e and sends it to Mallory.
  • Mallory computes s = k + e and sends it to Bob.
  • Bob verifies that sG = R + eG + Q. This will always hold.

Thus, Mallory successfully impersonated Alice, without having access to x.

  • Ah I see, thanks!
    – yonson
    Commented Jan 30 at 23:18

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