producing GnuPG keys as proof of work

Mirimir mirimir at
Thu Oct 2 21:04:37 CEST 2014

On 10/02/2014 12:45 PM, Robert J. Hansen wrote:
>> Would it be feasible to use gpg in batch mode to generate numerous keys,
>> selecting for a particular key ID, or perhaps a longer part of the
>> fingerprint?
> Depends.  Expert users, sure; new users, or people who aren't that
> interested in GnuPG but just want to get access to a website, not so much.

Yes, an app would be needed.

>> I imagine that websites could provide random alphanumeric strings to new
>> users, and require them to generate functional GnuPG keys (with normal
>> key length etc) with fingerprints that begin with the specified strings.
>> Having accomplished that, new users could edit their key, and specify an
>> account name and email address.
> I have to ask -- why?  What particular use case is this?  Why use GnuPG
> as a proof-of-work as opposed to giving someone six bytes and saying,
> "find me a SHA256 hash that starts with this, and provide me with it"?

It struck me that a GnuPG key, produced as proof of work, would be more
generally useful than an arbitrary hash. But now I see that
challenge-based proof of work could just be used to authenticate a GnuPG
key for signing and message encryption.

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