Zero-knowledge service

In cloud computing, the term zero-knowledge (or occasionally no-knowledge or zero access) refers to software services that store, transfer or manipulate data such that it is only accessible to its owner, not to the service provider. This is accomplished by encrypting the raw data at the client side or end-to-end (in case of one or more clients, respectively), without disclosing the password to the service provider. This means neither the service provider, nor any third party that might intercept the data, can ever decrypt and access the data on their own, allowing the client a higher degree of privacy than would otherwise be possible. In addition, zero-knowledge services usually aspire to hold as little metadata as possible, so as not to jeopardize clients' privacy by holding data beyond what is functionally needed by the service.

The term "zero-knowledge" was popularized by backup service SpiderOak, which later switched to using the term "no knowledge" to avoid confusion with the computer science concept of zero-knowledge proof.

Providers of zero-knowledge services include:


Most[citation needed] cloud storage services keep a copy of the client's password on their servers, allowing clients who have lost their passwords to retrieve and decrypt their data using alternative means of authentication; but since zero-knowledge services do not store copies of clients' passwords,[11] if a client loses their password then their data cannot be decrypted, making it practically unrecoverable.

Most[citation needed] cloud storage services are also able to furnish access requests from law enforcement agencies for similar reasons; zero-knowledge services, however, are unable to do so, since their systems are designed to make clients' data inaccessible without the client's explicit cooperation.


  1. ^ "What is Zero Knowledge Encryption and why you need it from the services you use". Cubbit blog. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  2. ^ "No Knowledge". LucidLink. Retrieved 2022-05-13.
  3. ^ "Zero-Knowledge Encryption: Extra Password Safety". NordPass. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  4. ^ "How zero-knowledge encryption keeps your files private". NordLocker. Retrieved 2022-09-27.
  5. ^ "What is zero access encryption?". ProtonMail Blog. 2018-05-23. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  6. ^ "Technology preview: Private contact discovery for Signal". Signal Messenger. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  7. ^ "No Knowledge". SpiderOak. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  8. ^ "Zero knowledge: The smartest option". Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  9. ^ "What is Zero-Knowledge Encryption?". Tresorit Blog. 2016-05-20. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  10. ^ "Tarsnap". Tarsnap. Retrieved 2022-06-04.
  11. ^ Kiefer, Franziskus; Manulis, Mark. "Zero-Knowledge Password Policy Checks and Verifier-Based PAKE" (PDF). Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 8713: 295–312.
  12. ^ Kiss, Jemima (2014-07-17). "Snowden: Dropbox is hostile to privacy, unlike 'zero knowledge' Spideroak". The Guardian. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  13. ^ O'Sullivan, Fergus (2015-08-25). "What Exactly is Zero-Knowledge in The Cloud and How Does it Work?". Cloudwards. Retrieved 2021-05-29.
  14. ^ Farivar, Cyrus (2016-10-04). "FBI demands Signal user data, but there's not much to hand over". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2021-05-29.