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In Elgamal, the generator $g$ is always quadratic non-residue modulo $p$, where $p$ is a safe prime and the inverse of $g$ can also be generator?

Can I prove it? I can't come up with it at all.

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Welcome to crypto.se. It would help if you described in your question what you've already tried, and where you're stuck. –  archie Nov 1 '13 at 1:51

2 Answers 2

Ok, I assume that you speak of ElGamal working in $Z_p^*$ and you mean that $g$ is a quadratic residue modulo $p$.

The problem with ElGamal, when taking some arbitrary prime $p$ is that you cannot achieve IND-CPA security.

Recall, in the IND-CPA security game, the adversary chooses two messages $m_0$ and $m_1$, obtains the ciphertext of $m_b$, where $b$ is the result of a coin flip, and has to guess with non negligible probability better than $1/2$ which message has been encrypted.

The problem is that you can use the Legendre symbol to efficiently decide quadratic residuosity modulo $p$. Now, if an attacker chooses one message to be a quadratic residue and one to be a non-residue, then the adversary with the knowledge of the quadratic residuosity of $g$ has non negligible advantage to guess the correct message (I guess this is homework so I do not discuss this in details).

If choosing $p$ to be a safe prime of the form $p=2q+1$ where $q$ is also prime, then the order $q$ subgroup of $Z_p^*$ represents the cyclic subgroup of quadratic residues (this is not hard to see). Then, if you choose $g$ to be a generator of this subgroup and restrict the message space to be quadratic residues, for obvious reasons, you achieve IND-CPA security.

Now, to your last point (inverse of $g$). Note that in a group of prime order ($q$ in our case) every element is a generator. This group of quadratic residues of order $q$ is a subgroup of $Z_p^*$. If you recall basic group theory then you may remember the definiton of a subgroup: Let $G$ be a group and let $H$ be a nonempty subset of $G$. If for all $a,b\in H$ it holds that $ab^{-1}\in H$, then $H$ is a subgroup of $G$. This means, that the inverse $g^{-1}$ of $g$ is in the subgroup and since every element in the subgroup is a generator you have what you want so show.

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For El Gamal to be secure, $g$ has to generate a subgroup where the DDH problem is hard. Everything follows as a consequence of that.

As a consequence of this requirement, $g$ must generate a prime-order subgroup (if it doesn't, the DDH problem becomes easy). One way to ensure that $g$ generates a prime-order subgroup is to let $p$ be a safe prime (so that $q=(p-1)/2$ is prime too) and to choose a group element $g$ of order $q$. These choices ensure that $g$ will generate a prime-order subgroup. And if you choose $p$ and $g$ this way, then yes, $g$ will necessarily be a quadratic non-residue.

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