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Webchain: Verifiable Citations and References for the World Wide Web

Rohrer, Elias; Heidel, Steffen; Tschorsch, Florian

FG Distributed Security Infrastructures (DSI)

Readers’ capability to consider and assess sources is imperative. Digital preservation efforts, however, mostly neglected citation provenance, which is a necessity for transparent source verification. We therefore present Webchain, a new system enabling verifiable citations and references on the World Wide Web. Its architecture combines a distributed ledger with secure timestamping to ensure history of creation, ownership, and referential integrity of online resources. With Webchain, readers can independently detect content manipulation by verifying authenticity, integrity, and time consistency. At the same time, authors gain a proof of existence for referenced articles. Webchain extends a well-known distributed timestamping scheme to handle an open and dynamic network topology by providing a solution for membership management. We examine the security of our approach, particularly regarding forging attacks. Our results show that we are able to render such attacks infeasible, even in the face of a powerful attacker.