An information theoretic approach to secret sharing

Shaofeng Zou, Yingbin Liang, Lifeng Lai, Shlomo Shamai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A novel information theoretic approach is proposed to solve the secret sharing problem, in which a dealer distributes one or multiple secrets among a set of participants in such a manner that for each secret only qualified sets of users can recover this secret by pooling their shares together while nonqualified sets of users obtain no information about the secret even if they pool their shares together. While existing secret sharing systems (implicitly) assume that communications between the dealer and participants are noiseless, this paper takes a more practical assumption that the dealer delivers shares to the participants via a noisy broadcast channel. Thus, in contrast to the existing solutions that are mainly based on number theoretic tools, an information theoretic approach is proposed, which exploits the channel randomness during delivery of shares as additional resources to achieve secret sharing requirements. In this way, secret sharing problems can be reformulated as equivalent secure communication problems via wiretap channel models, and can hence be solved by employing the powerful information theoretic security techniques. This approach is first developed for the classic secret sharing problem, in which only one secret is to be shared. This classic problem is shown to be equivalent to a communication problem over a compound wiretap channel. Thus, the lower and upper bounds on the secrecy capacity of the compound channel provide the corresponding bounds on the secret sharing rate, and the secrecy scheme designed for the compound channel provides the secret sharing schemes. The power of the approach is further demonstrated by a more general layered multisecret sharing problem, which is shown to be equivalent to the degraded broadcast multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) channel with layered decoding and secrecy constraints. The secrecy capacity region for the degraded MIMO broadcast channel is characterized, which provides the secret sharing capacity region. Furthermore, the secure encoding scheme that achieves the secrecy capacity region provides an information theoretic scheme for sharing the secrets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7084122
Pages (from-to)3121-3136
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Transactions on Information Theory
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Broadcast channel
  • Layered secrecy
  • MIMO channel
  • Secrecy capacity region
  • Secret sharing
  • Wiretap channel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Library and Information Sciences

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'An information theoretic approach to secret sharing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this