How to reshare a secret


tl;dr: A $t$-out-of-$n$ sharing of $s$ can be reshared as a $t’$-out-of-$n’$. How? Each old player $t’$-out-of-$n’$ reshares their share with the new players. Let $H$ denote an agreed-upon set of $\ge t$ old players who (re)shared correctly. Then, each new player’s $t’$-out-of-$n’$ share of $s$ will be the Lagrange interpolation (w.r.t. $H$) across all the shares received from the old players.

Preliminaries: How to share a secret

This article assumes familiarity with Shamir secret sharing1, a technique that allows a dealer to “split up” a secret $s$ amongst $n$ players such that any subset of size $\ge t$ can reconstruct $s$ yet no subset of size $<t$ learns anything about the secret.

Shamir secret sharing

Recall that a secret ${\color{green}s}\in \Zp$ is $t$-out-of-$n$ secret-shared as follows:

  1. The dealer encodes $s$ as the 0th coefficient in a random degree-$(t-1)$ polynomial $\color{green}{f(X)}$: \begin{align} f(X) &= s + \sum_{k=1}^{t-1} f_k X^k,\ \text{where each}\ f_k\randget \Zp \end{align}

  2. The dealer gives each player $i\in [n]$, their share $s_i$ of $s$ as: \begin{align} \color{green}{s_i} &= f(i)\\
    &= s + \sum_{k=1}^{t-1} f_k \cdot i^k \end{align}

  3. The shares $[s_1, s_2, \ldots, s_n]$ define the $t$-out-of-$n$ sharing of $s$.

Lagrange polynomials

Recall the definition of a Lagrange polynomial w.r.t. to a set of evaluation points $T$. \begin{align} \forall i\in[n], \color{green}{\lagr_i(X)} &= \prod_{k\in T, k\ne i} \frac{X - k}{i - k} \end{align} The relevant properties of $L_i^T(X)$ are that: \begin{align} L_i(i) &= 1,\forall i \in T\\
L_i(j) &= 0,\forall i, j\in T, i\ne j\\

Shamir secret reconstruction

Any subset $T\subseteq[n]$ of $t$ or more players can reconstruct $s$ by combining their shares as follows: \begin{align} \sum_{i\in T} \lagr_i^T(0) s_i &= \sum_{i\in T}\lagr_i^T(0) f(i) = f(0) = s\\

How to reshare a secret

Suppose the old players, who have a $t$-out-of-$n$ sharing of $s$, want to reshare s with a set of $\color{green}{n’}$ new players such that any $\color{green}{t’}$ players can reconstruct $s$.

In other words, they want to $t’$-out-of-$n’$ reshare $s$.

Importantly, they want to do this without leaking $s$ or any info about the current $t$-out-of-$n$ sharing of $s$. A technique for this, whose origins are (likely?) in the BGW paper2, is described by Cachin et al.3 and involves four steps:

  1. Each old player $i$ first “shares their share” with the new $n’$ players: i.e., randomly sample a degree-$(t’-1)$ polynomial $\color{green}{r_i(X)}$ that shares their $s_i$: \begin{align} \color{green}{r_i(X)} &= s_i + \sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} {\color{green}r_{i,k}} X^k,\ \text{where each}\ r_{i,k}\randget \Zp

  2. Let ${\color{green}z_{i,j}}$ denote the share of $s_i$ for player $j\in[n’]$. \begin{align} {\color{green}z_{i,j}} = r_i(j) \end{align} Then, each old player $i$ will send $z_{i,j}$ to each new player $j\in [n’]$.

  3. The new players agree4 on a set $\color{green}{H}$ of old players who correctly-shared their share $s_i$ with all $n’$ new players.
    • This is certainly sufficient and easily achievable via PVSS4, but may not be necessary.
  4. Each new player $j\in [n’]$ interpolates their share $\color{green}{z_j}$ of $s$ as: \begin{align} \label{eq:newshare} {\color{green}z_j} &= \sum_{i\in H} \lagr_i^H(0) z_{i,j}\\
    &= \sum_{i\in H} \lagr_i^H(0) r_i(j) \end{align}

And voilà: SUCH A BEAUTIFUL, SIMPLE PROTOCOL for secret resharing.

Why does this work?

It’s easy to see why if we reason about the underlying polynomial defined by the new players’ shares $z_j$. Specifically, the degree-$(t’-1)$ polynomial $r(X)$ where $r(0) = s$: \begin{align} r(x) &= \sum_{i\in H} \lagr_i^H(0) r_i(X)\\
&= \sum_{i\in H} \lagr_i^H(0) \left(s_i + \sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} r_{i,k} \cdot X^k\right)\\
&= \left(\sum_{i\in H} \lagr_i^H(0) f(i)\right) + \left(\sum_{i\in H}\lagr_i^H(0) \left(\sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} r_{i,k} \cdot X^k\right)\right)\\
&= s + \sum_{i\in H}\lagr_i^H(0) \left(\sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} r_{i,k} \cdot X^k\right)\\
&\stackrel{\mathsf{def}}{=} s + \sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} {\color{green}r_k} X^k \end{align}

In other words, $[s, r_1, r_2,\ldots,r_{t’-1}]$ are the coefficients of the polynomial obtained from the linear combination of the $r_i(X)$’s by the Lagrange coefficients $\lagr_i^H(0)$.

In more detail: \begin{align} r(x) &= s + \left(\begin{matrix} &\lagr_{i_1}^H(0) \left(\sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} r_{i_1,k} \cdot X^k\right) + {}\\
&\lagr_{i_2}^H(0) \left(\sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} r_{i_2,k} \cdot X^k\right) + {}\\
&\lagr_{i_{|H|}}^H(0) \left(\sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} r_{i_{|H|},k} \cdot X^k\right)\\
\end{matrix}\right) \end{align}

Let ${\color{green}c_{i_j, k}} \stackrel{\mathsf{def}}{=} \lagr_{i_j}^H(0) \cdot r_{i_j, k}$. Then, we can rewrite the above as: \begin{align} r(x) &= s + \left(\begin{matrix} &\sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} c_{i_1,k} \cdot X^k + {}\\
&\sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} c_{i_2,k} \cdot X^k + {}\\
&\sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} c_{i_{|H|},k} \cdot X^k\\
\end{matrix}\right) \end{align} Let ${\color{green}r_k}\stackrel{\mathsf{def}}{=} \sum_{i_j \in H} c_{i_j, k}$. Then, we can rewrite the above as: \begin{align} r(x) &\stackrel{\mathsf{def}}{=} s + \sum_{k=1}^{t’-1} r_k X^k \end{align}

And, as we saw in Equation \ref{eq:newshare} above, any new player $j\in[n’]$ can get their share of $r(X)$ via: \begin{align} z_j &= \sum_{i\in H} \lagr_i^H(0) r_i(j)\\
&= r(j) \end{align}


Big thanks to Benny Pinkas for pointing me to the BGW paper2 and for pointing out subtleties in what it means for an old player to correctly share their share.

  1. How to Share a Secret, by Shamir, Adi, in Commun. ACM, 1979, [URL] 

  2. Completeness Theorems for Non-cryptographic Fault-tolerant Distributed Computation, by Ben-Or, Michael and Goldwasser, Shafi and Wigderson, Avi, in Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, 1988, [URL]  2

  3. Asynchronous Verifiable Secret Sharing and Proactive Cryptosystems, by Cachin, Christian and Kursawe, Klaus and Lysyanskaya, Anna and Strobl, Reto, in Proceedings of the 9th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, 2002, [URL] 

  4. This step is non-trivial and is where most protocols work hard to achieve efficiency. For example, see 3. Publicly-verifiable secret sharing (PVSS) on a public bulletin board such as a blockchain is a simple (albeit naive) way of achieving this: there will be $n$ PVSS transcripts, one for each-reshared $s_i$, and everyone can agree on the set $H$ of valid transcripts.  2