We propose an efficient commutative group action suitable for non-interactive key exchange in a post-quantum setting. Our construction follows the layout of the Couveignes-Rostovtsev-Stolbunov cryptosystem, but we apply it to supersingular elliptic curves defined over a large prime field Fp, rather than to ordinary elliptic curves. The Diffie-Hellman scheme resulting from the group action allows for public-key validation at very little cost, runs reasonably fast in practice, and has public keys of only 64 bytes at a conjectured AES-128 security level, matching NIST’s post-quantum security category I.
The RSA PKCS#1 v1.5 signature algorithm is the most widely used digital signature scheme in practice. Its two main strengths are its extreme simplicity, which makes it very easy to implement, and that verification of signatures is significantly faster than for DSA or ECDSA. Despite the huge practical importance of RSA PKCS#1 v1.5 signatures, providing formal evidence for their security based on plausible cryptographic hardness assumptions has turned out to be very difficult. Therefore the most recent version of PKCS#1 (RFC 8017) even recommends a replacement the more complex and less efficient scheme RSA-PSS, as it is provably secure and therefore considered more robust. The main obstacle is that RSA PKCS#1 v1.5 signatures use a deterministic padding scheme, which makes standard proof techniques not applicable.
We introduce a new technique that enables the first security proof for RSA-PKCS#1 v1.5 signatures. We prove full existential unforgeability against adaptive chosen-message attacks (EUF-CMA) under the standard RSA assumption. Furthermore, we give a tight proof under the Phi-Hiding assumption. These proofs are in the random oracle model and the parameters deviate slightly from the standard use, because we require a larger output length of the hash function. However, we also show how RSA-PKCS#1 v1.5 signatures can be instantiated in practice such that our security proofs apply.
In order to draw a more complete picture of the precise security of RSA PKCS#1 v1.5 signatures, we also give security proofs in the standard model, but with respect to weaker attacker models (key-only attacks) and based on known complexity assumptions. The main conclusion of our work is that from a provable security perspective RSA PKCS#1 v1.5 can be safely used, if the output length of the hash function is chosen appropriately.
The security of today’s widely used communication security protocols is based on trust in Certificate Authorities (CAs). However, the real security of this approach is debatable, since certificate handling is tedious and many recent attacks have undermined the trust in CAs. On the other hand, opportunistic encryption protocols such as Tcpcrypt, which are currently gaining momentum as an alternative to no encryption, have similar security to using untrusted CAs or self-signed certificates: they only protect against passive attackers.
In this paper, we present a key exchange protocol, Secure Multipath Key Exchange (SMKEX), that enables all the benefits of opportunistic encryption (no need for trusted third parties or pre-established secrets), as well as proven protection against some classes of active attackers. Furthermore, SMKEX can be easily extended to a trust-on-first-use setting and can be easily integrated with TLS, providing the highest security for opportunistic encryption to date while also increasing the security of standard TLS.
We show that SMKEX is made practical by the current availability of path diversity between different AS-es. We also show a method to create path diversity with encrypted tunnels without relying on the network topology. These allow SMKEX to provide protection against most adversaries for a majority of Alexa top 100 web sites.
We have implemented SMKEX using a modified Multipath TCP kernel implementation and a user library that overwrites part of the socket API, allowing unmodified applications to take advantage of the security provided by SMKEX.
Email communication is amongst the most prominent online activities, and as such, can put sensitive information at risk. It is thus of high importance that internet email applications are designed in a privacy-aware manner and analyzed under a rigorous threat model. The Snowden revelations (2013) suggest that such a model should feature a global adversary, in light of the observational tools available. Furthermore, the fact that protecting metadata can be of equal importance as protecting the communication context implies that end-to-end encryption may be necessary, but it is not sufficient.
With this in mind, we utilize the Universal Composability framework [Canetti, 2001] to introduce an expressive cryptographic model for email ``ecosystems’’ that can formally and precisely capture various well-known privacy notions (unobservability, anonymity, unlinkability, etc.), by parameterizing the amount of leakage an ideal-world adversary (simulator) obtains from the email functionality.
Equipped with our framework, we present and analyze the security of two email constructions that follow different directions in terms of the efficiency vs. privacy tradeoff. The first one achieves optimal security (only the online/offline mode of the users is leaked), but it is mainly of theoretical interest; the second one is based on parallel mixing [Golle and Juels, 2004] and is more practical, while it achieves anonymity with respect to users that have similar amount of sending and receiving activity.
We advance the study of secure stream-based channels (Fischlin et al., CRYPTO ’15) by considering the multiplexing of many data streams over a single channel, an essential feature of real world protocols such as TLS. Our treatment adopts the definitional perspective of Rogaway and Stegers (CSF ’09), which offers an elegant way to reason about what standardizing documents actually provide: a partial specification of a protocol that admits a collection of compliant, fully realized implementations. We formalize partially specified channels as the component algorithms of two parties communicating over a channel. Each algorithm has an oracle that provides specification details; the algorithms abstract the things that must be explicitly specified, while the oracle abstracts the things that need not be. Our security notions, which capture a variety of privacy and integrity goals, allow the adversary to respond to these oracle queries; security relative to these notions implies that the channel withstands attacks in the presence of worst-case (i.e., adversarial) realizations of the specification details. We apply this framework to a formal treatment of the TLS 1.3 record and, in doing so, show that its security hinges crucially upon details left unspecified by the standard.
ECDSA is a standardized signing algorithm that is widely used in TLS, code signing, cryptocurrency and more. Due to its importance, the problem of securely computing ECDSA in a distributed manner (known as threshold signing) has received considerable interest. However, despite this interest, there is still no full threshold solution for more than 2 parties (meaning that any t-out-of-n parties can sign, security is preserved for any t−1 or fewer corrupted parties, and t≤n can be any value thus supporting an honest minority) that has practical key distribution. This is due to the fact that all previous solutions for this utilize Paillier homomorphic encryption, and efficient distributed Paillier key generation for more than two parties is not known.
In this paper, we present the first truly practical full threshold ECDSA signing protocol that has both fast signing and fast key distribution. This solves a years-old open problem, and opens the door to practical uses of threshold ECDSA signing that are in demand today. One of these applications is the construction of secure cryptocurrency wallets (where key shares are spread over multiple devices and so are hard to steal) and cryptocurrency custody solutions (where large sums of invested cryptocurrency are strongly protected by splitting the key between a bank/financial institution, the customer who owns the currency, and possibly a third-party trustee, in multiple shares at each). There is growing practical interest in such solutions, but prior to our work these could not be deployed today due to the need for distributed key generation.
We show a protocol for two-server oblivious RAM (ORAM) that is simpler and more efficient than the best prior work. Our construction combines any tree-based ORAM with an extension of a two-server private information retrieval scheme by Boyle et al., and is able to avoid recursion and thus use only one round of interaction. In addition, our scheme has a very cheap initialization phase, making it well suited for RAM-based secure computation. Although our scheme requires the servers to perform a linear scan over the entire data, the cryptographic computation involved consists only of block-cipher evaluations.
A practical instantiation of our protocol has excellent concrete parameters: for storing an N
-element array of arbitrary size data blocks with statistical security parameter λ, the servers each store 4N encrypted blocks, the client stores λ+2logN blocks, and the total communication per logical access is roughly 10logN encrypted blocks.
This work provides a systematic analysis of primality testing under adversarial conditions, where the numbers being tested for primality are not generated randomly, but instead provided by a possibly malicious party. Such a situation can arise in secure messaging protocols where a server supplies Diffie-Hellman parameters to the peers, or in a secure communications protocol like TLS where a developer can insert such a number to be able to later passively spy on client-server data. We study a broad range of cryptographic libraries and assess their performance in this adversarial setting. As examples of our findings, we are able to construct 2048-bit composites that are declared prime with probability 1/16 by OpenSSL’s primality testing in its default configuration; the advertised performance is 2^−80. We can also construct 1024-bit composites that always pass the primality testing routine in GNU GMP when configured with the recommended minimum number of rounds. And, for a number of libraries (Cryptlib, LibTomCrypt, JavaScript Big Number, WolfSSL), we can construct composites that always pass the supplied primality tests. We explore the implications of these security failures in applications, focusing on the construction of malicious Diffie-Hellman parameters. We show that, unless careful primality testing is performed, an adversary can supply parameters (p,q,g) which on the surface look secure, but where the discrete logarithm problem in the subgroup of order q generated by g is easy. We close by making recommendations for users and developers. In particular, we promote the Baillie-PSW primality test which is both efficient and conjectured to be robust even in the adversarial setting for numbers up to a few thousand bits.
While secure multi-party computation (MPC) is a vibrant research topic and a multitude of practical MPC applications have been presented recently, their development is still a tedious task that requires expert knowledge. Previous works have made first steps in compiling high-level descriptions from various source descriptions into MPC protocols, but only looked at a limited set of protocols. In this work we present HyCC, a tool-chain for automated compilation of ANSI C programs into hybrid protocols that efficiently and securely combine multiple MPC protocols with optimizing compilation, scheduling, and partitioning. As a result, our compiled protocols are able to achieve performance numbers that are comparable to hand-built solutions. For the MiniONN neural network (Liu et al., CCS 2017), our compiler improves performance of the resulting protocol by more than a factor of $3$. Thus, for the first time, highly efficient hybrid MPC becomes accessible for developers without cryptographic background.
In this work we develop a new theory for concretely efficient, large-scale MPC with active security. Current practical techniques are mostly in the strong setting of all-but-one corruptions, which leads to protocols that scale badly with the number of parties. To work around this issue, we consider a large-scale scenario where a small minority out of many parties is honest and design scalable, more efficient MPC protocols for this setting. Our results are achieved by introducing new techniques for information-theoretic MACs with short keys and extending the work of Hazay et al. (CRYPTO 2018), which developed new passively secure MPC protocols in the same context. We further demonstrate the usefulness of this theory in practice by analyzing the concrete communication overhead of our protocols, which improve upon the most efficient previous works.
There have been tremendous advances in reducing interaction, communication and verification time in zero-knowledge proofs but it remains an important challenge to make the prover efficient. We construct the first zero-knowledge proof of knowledge for the correct execution of a program on public and private inputs where the prover computation is nearly linear time. This saves a polylogarithmic factor in asymptotic performance compared to current state of the art proof systems.
We use the TinyRAM model to capture general purpose processor computation. An instance consists of a TinyRAM program and public inputs. The witness consists of additional private inputs to the program. The prover can use our proof system to convince the verifier that the program terminates with the intended answer within given time and memory bounds. Our proof system has perfect completeness, statistical special honest verifier zero-knowledge, and computational knowledge soundness assuming linear-time computable collision-resistant hash functions exist.
The main advantage of our new proof system is asymptotically efficient prover computation. The prover’s running time is only a superconstant factor larger than the program’s running time in an apples-to-apples comparison where the prover uses the same TinyRAM model. Our proof system is also efficient on the other performance parameters; the verifier’s running time time and the communication are sublinear in the execution time of the program and we only use a log-logarithmic number of rounds.
We present two new, highly efficient, protocols for securely generating a distributed RSA key pair in the two-party setting. One protocol is semi-honestly secure and the other maliciously secure. Both are constant round and do not rely on any specific number-theoretic assumptions and improve significantly over the state-of-the-art by allowing a slight leakage (which we show to not affect security).
For our maliciously secure protocol our most significant improvement comes from executing most of the protocol in a ``strong’’ semi-honest manner and then doing a single, light, zero-knowledge argument of correct execution. We introduce other significant improvements as well. One such improvement arrives in showing that certain, limited leakage does not compromise security, which allows us to use lightweight subprotocols. Another improvement, which may be of independent interest, comes in our approach for multiplying two large integers using OT, in the malicious setting, without being susceptible to a selective-failure attack. Finally, we implement our malicious protocol and show that its performance is an order of magnitude better than the best previous protocol, which provided only semi-honest security.
Pattern matching is essential in applications such as deep-packet inspection (DPI), searching on genomic data, or analyzing medical data. A simple task to do on plaintext data, pattern matching is much harder to do when the privacy of the data must be preserved. Existent solutions involve searchable encryption mechanisms with at least one of these three drawbacks: requiring an exhaustive (and static) list of keywords to be prepared before the data is encrypted (like in symmetric searchable encryption); requiring tokenization, i.e., breaking up the data to search into substrings and encrypting them separately (e.g., like BlindBox); relying on symmetric-key cryptography, thus implying a token-regeneration step for each encrypted-data source (e.g., user). Such approaches are ill-suited for pattern-matching with evolving patterns (e.g., updating virus signatures), variable searchword lengths, or when a single entity must filter ciphertexts from multiple parties.
In this work, we introduce Searchable Encryption with Shiftable Trapdoors (SEST): a new primitive that allows for pattern matching with universal tokens (usable by all entities), in which keywords of arbitrary lengths can be matched to arbitrary ciphertexts. Our solution uses public-key encryption and bilinear pairings. It consists of projecting keywords on polynomials of degree equal to the length of the keyword and using a sliding-window-like technique to match the trapdoor to successive fragments of the encrypted data. In addition, very minor modifications to our solution enable it to take into account regular expressions, such as fully- or partly-unknown characters in a keyword (wildcards and interval/subset searches). Our trapdoor size is at most linear in the keyword length (and independent of the plaintext size), and we prove that the leakage to the searcher is only the trivial one: since the searcher learns whether the pattern occurs and where, it can distinguish based on different search results of a single trapdoor on two different plaintexts.
To better show the usability of our scheme, we implemented it to run DPI on all the SNORT rules. We show that even for very large plaintexts, our encryption algorithm scales well. The pattern-matching algorithm is slightly slower, but extremely parallelizable, and it can thus be run even on very large data. Although our proofs use a (marginally) interactive assumption, we argue that this is a relatively small price to pay for the flexibility and privacy that we are able to attain.
Recently, NIST started the process of standardizing quantum- resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms. WalnutDSA, the subject of this paper, is one of the 20 proposed signature schemes that are being considered for standardization. Walnut relies on a one-way function called E-Multiplication, which has a rich algebraic structure. This paper shows that this structure can be exploited to launch several practical attacks against the Walnut cryptosystem. The attacks work very well in practice; it is possible to forge signatures and compute equivalent secret keys for the 128-bit and 256-bit security parameters submitted to NIST in less than a second and in less than a minute respectively.
The rise of machine learning as a service multiplies scenarios where one faces a privacy dilemma: either sensitive user data must be revealed to the entity that evaluates the cognitive model (e.g., in the Cloud), or the model itself must be revealed to the user so that the evaluation can take place locally. Fully Homomorphic Encryption (FHE) offers an elegant way to reconcile these conflicting interests in the Cloud-based scenario and also preserve non-interactivity. However, due to the inefficiency of existing FHE schemes, most applications prefer to use Somewhat Homomorphic Encryption (SHE), where the complexity of the computation to be performed has to be known in advance, and the efficiency of the scheme depends on this global complexity.
In this paper, we present a new framework for homomorphic evaluation of neural networks, that we call FHE-DiNN, whose complexity is strictly linear in the depth of the network and whose parameters can be set beforehand. To obtain this scale-invariance property, we rely heavily on the bootstrapping procedure. We refine the recent FHE construction by Chillotti et al. (ASIACRYPT 2016) in order to increase the message space and apply the sign function (that we use to activate the neurons in the network) during the bootstrapping. We derive some empirical results, using TFHE library as a starting point, and classify encrypted images from the MNIST dataset with more than 96% accuracy in less than 1.7 seconds.
Finally, as a side contribution, we analyze and introduce some variations to the bootstrapping technique of Chillotti et al. that offer an improvement in efficiency at the cost of increasing the storage requirements.
Tight security is increasingly gaining importance in real-world cryptography, as it allows to choose cryptographic parameters in a way that is supported by a security proof, without the need to sacrifice efficiency by compensating the security loss of a reduction with larger parameters. However, for many important cryptographic primitives, including digital signatures and authenticated key exchange (AKE), we are still lacking constructions that are suitable for real-world deployment.
We construct the first truly practical signature scheme with tight security in a real-world multi-user setting with adaptive corruptions. The scheme is based on a new way of applying the Fiat-Shamir approach to construct tightly-secure signatures from certain identification schemes.
Then we use this scheme as a building block to construct the first practical AKE protocol with tight security. It allows the establishment of a key within 1 RTT in a practical client-server setting, provides forward security, is simple and easy to implement, and thus very suitable for practical deployment. It is essentially the ``signed Diffie-Hellman’’ protocol, but with an additional message, which is crucial to achieve tight security. This additional message is used to overcome a technical difficulty in constructing tightly-secure AKE protocols.
For a theoretically-sound choice of parameters and a moderate number of users and sessions, our protocol has comparable computational efficiency to the simple signed Diffie-Hellman protocol with EC-DSA, while for large-scale settings our protocol has even better computational performance, at moderately increased communication complexity.
Wang et al. (CCS 2017) recently proposed a protocol for malicious secure two-party computation that represents the state-of-the- art with regard to concrete efficiency in both the single-execution and amortized settings, with or without preprocessing. We show here several optimizations of their protocol that result in a significant improvement in the overall communication and running time. Specifically:
We show how to make the “authenticated garbling” at the heart of their protocol compatible with the half-gate optimization of Zahur et al. (Eurocrypt 2015). We also show how to avoid sending an information-theoretic MAC for each garbled row. These two optimizations give up to a 2.6x improvement in communication, and make the communication of the online phase essentially equivalent to that of state-of-the-art semi-honest secure computation.
We show various optimizations to their protocol for generating AND triples that, overall, result in a 1.5x improvement in the communication and a 2x improvement in the computation for that step.
Protocols for secure multiparty computation enable a set of parties to compute a function of their inputs without revealing anything but the output. The security properties of the protocol must be preserved in the presence of adversarial behavior. The two classic adversary models considered are semi-honest (where the adversary follows the protocol specification but tries to learn more than allowed by examining the protocol transcript) and malicious (where the adversary may follow any arbitrary attack strategy). Protocols for semi-honest adversaries are often far more efficient, but in many cases the security guarantees are not strong enough.
In this paper, we present new protocols for securely computing any functionality represented by an arithmetic circuit. We utilize a new method for verifying that the adversary does not cheat, that yields a cost of just twice that of semi-honest protocols in some settings. Our protocols are information-theoretically secure in the presence of a malicious adversaries, assuming an honest majority. We present protocol variants for small and large fields, and show how to efficiently instantiate them based on replicated secret sharing and Shamir sharing. As with previous works in this area aiming to achieve high efficiency, our protocol is secure with abort and does not achieve fairness, meaning that the adversary may receive output while the honest parties do not.
We implemented our protocol and ran experiments for different numbers of parties, different network configurations and different circuit depths. Our protocol significantly outperforms the previous best for this setting (Lindell and Nof, CCS 2017); for a large number of parties, our implementation runs almost an order of magnitude faster than theirs.
We present a new approach to designing concretely efficient MPC protocols with semi-honest security in the dishonest majority setting. Motivated by the fact that within the dishonest majority setting the efficiency of most practical protocols does not depend on the number of honest parties, we investigate how to construct protocols which improve in efficiency as the number of honest parties increases. Our central idea is to take a protocol which is secure for n−1 corruptions and modify it to use short symmetric keys, with the aim of basing security on the concatenation of all honest parties’ keys. This results in a more efficient protocol tolerating fewer corruptions, whilst also introducing an LPN-style syndrome decoding assumption.
We first apply this technique to a modified version of the semi-honest GMW protocol, using OT extension with short keys, to improve the efficiency of standard GMW with fewer corruptions. We also obtain more efficient constant-round MPC, using BMR-style garbled circuits with short keys, and present an implementation of the online phase of this protocol. Our techniques start to improve upon existing protocols when there are around n=20
parties with h=6 honest parties, and as these increase we obtain up to a 13 times reduction (for n=400,h=120) in communication complexity for our GMW variant, compared with the best-known GMW-based protocol modified to use the same threshold.
Most multi-party computation protocols allow secure computation of arithmetic circuits over a finite field, such as the integers modulo a prime. In the more natural setting of integer computations modulo 2^k, which are useful for simplifying implementations and applications, no solutions with active security are known unless the majority of the participants are honest.
We present a new scheme for information-theoretic MACs that are homomorphic modulo 2^k, and are as efficient as the well-known standard solutions that are homomorphic over fields. We apply this to construct an MPC protocol for dishonest majority in the preprocessing model that has efficiency comparable to the well-known SPDZ protocol (Damgård et al., CRYPTO 2012), with operations modulo 2^k instead of over a field. We also construct a matching preprocessing protocol based on oblivious transfer, which is in the style of the MASCOT protocol (Keller et al., CCS 2016) and almost as efficient.
Modern stream ciphers often adopt a large internal state to resist various attacks, where the cryptanalysts have to deal with a large number of variables when mounting state recovery attacks. In this paper, we propose a general new cryptanalytic method on stream ciphers, called fast near collision attack, to address this situation. It combines a near collision property with the divide-and-conquer strategy so that only subsets of the internal state, associated with different keystream vectors, are recovered first and merged carefully later to retrieve the full large internal state. A self-contained method is introduced and improved to derive the target subset of the internal state from the partial state difference efficiently. As an application, we propose a new key recovery attack on Grain v1, one of the 7 finalists selected by the eSTREAM project, in the single-key setting. Both the pre-computation and the online phases are tailored according to its internal structure, to provide an attack for any fixed IV in 275.7 cipher ticks after the pre-computation of 28.1 cipher ticks, given 228-bit memory and about 219 keystream bits. Practical experiments on Grain v1 itself whenever possible and on a 80-bit reduced version confirmed our results.
We present “Ouroboros Praos”, a new proof-of-stake blockchain protocol that provides, for the first time, a robust distributed ledger that is provably secure in the semi-synchronous adversarial setting, i.e., assuming a delay \Delta in message delivery which is unknown to protocol participants, and fully adaptively secure, i.e., the adversary can choose to corrupt any participant of an ever evolving population of stakeholders at any moment as long the stakeholder distribution maintains an honest majority of stake at any given time. To achieve that, our protocol puts to use forward secure digital signatures and a new type of verifiable random functions that maintains unpredictability under malicious key generation, a property we introduce and instantiate in the random oracle model. Our security proof entails a combinatorial analysis of a class of forkable strings tailored to semi-synchronous blockchains that may be of independent interest in the context of security analysis of blockchain protocols.
Password-Authenticated Key Exchange (PAKE) protocols allow two parties that only share a password to establish a shared key in a way that is immune to offline attacks. Asymmetric PAKE (aPAKE) strengthens this notion for the more common client-server setting where the server stores a mapping of the password and security is required even upon server compromise, that is, the only allowed attack in this case is an (inevitable) offline exhaustive dictionary attack against individual user passwords. Unfortunately, current aPAKE protocols (that dispense with the use of servers’ public keys) allow for pre-computation attacks that lead to the instantaneous compromise of user passwords upon server compromise, thus forgoing much of the intended aPAKE security. Indeed, these protocols use - in essential ways - deterministic password mappings or use random “salt” transmitted in the clear from servers to users, and thus are vulnerable to pre-computation attacks.
We initiate the study of “Strong aPAKE” protocols that are secure as aPAKE’s but are also secure against pre-computation attacks. We formalize this notion in the Universally Composable (UC) settings and present two modular constructions using an Oblivious PRF as a main tool. The first builds a Strong aPAKE from any aPAKE (which in turn can be constructed from any PAKE [GMR’06]) while the second builds a Strong aPAKE from any authenticated key-exchange protocol secure against reverse impersonation (a.k.a. KCI). Using the latter transformation, we show a practical instantiation of a UC-secure Strong aPAKE in the Random Oracle model. The protocol (“OPAQUE”) consists of 2 messages (3 with mutual authentication), requires 3 and 4 exponentiations for server and client, respectively (2 to 4 of which can be fixed-base depending on optimizations), provides forward secrecy, is PKI-free, supports user-side hash iterations, has a built-in facility for password-based storage and retrieval of secrets and credentials, and accommodates a user-transparent server-side threshold implementation.
Message franking enables cryptographically verifiable reporting of abusive content in end-to-end encrypted messaging. Grubbs, Lu, and Ristenpart recently formalized the needed underlying primitive, what they call compactly committing authenticated encryption (AE), and analyzed the security of a number of approaches. But all known secure schemes are still slow compared to the fastest standard AE schemes. For this reason Facebook Messenger uses AES-GCM for franking of attachments such as images or videos. We show how to break Facebook’s attachment franking scheme: a malicious user can send an objectionable image to a recipient but that recipient cannot report it as abuse. The core problem stems from use of fast but non-committing AE, and so we build the fastest compactly committing AE schemes to date. To do so we introduce a new primitive, called encryptment, which captures the essential properties needed. We prove that, unfortunately, schemes with performance profile similar to AES-GCM won’t work. Instead, we show how to efficiently transform Merkle-Damgärd-style hash functions into secure encryptments, and how to efficiently build compactly committing AE from encryptment. Ultimately our main construction allows franking using just a single computation of SHA-256 or SHA-3. Encryptment proves useful for a variety of other applications, such as remotely keyed AE and concealments, and our results imply the first single-pass schemes in these settings as well.
The counter mode (CTR) is a simple, efficient and widely used encryption mode using a block cipher. It comes with a security proof that guarantees no attacks up to the birthday bound (i.e. as long as the number of encrypted blocks σ satisfies σ≪2n/2), and a matching attack that can distinguish plaintext/ciphertext pairs from random using about 2n/2 blocks of data.
The main goal of this paper is to study attacks against the counter mode beyond this simple distinguisher. We focus on message recovery attacks, with realistic assumptions about the capabilities of an adversary, and evaluate the full time complexity of the attacks rather than just the query complexity. Our main result is an attack to recover a block of message with complexity O~(2n/2). This shows that the actual security of CTR is similar to that of CBC, where collision attacks are well known to reveal information about the message.
To achieve this result, we study a simple algorithmic problem related to the security of the CTR mode: the missing difference problem. We give efficient algorithms for this problem in two practically relevant cases: where the missing difference is known to be in some linear subspace, and when the amount of data is higher than strictly required.
As a further application, we show that the second algorithm can also be used to break some polynomial MACs such as GMAC and Poly1305, with a universal forgery attack with complexity O~(22n/3).