My question is, here there any commutative ciphers out there that are secure enough for sensitive data encryption / decryption (money is involved) and at the same time not burdening enough on the computer to be run in real time on less powerful devices (say, a smartphone)?
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For a set of $B$ elements (e.g. $B = 2^n$ for all the "blocks of $n$ bits"), there are $B!$ possible permutations. An ideal block cipher is such that an instance with an unknown key is indistinguishable from a permutation chosen at random, uniformly, in these $B!$ permutations.
Since permutations don't commute in general, a "perfect" commutative block cipher must work over a subset of these $B!$ permutations, where all elements of the subset actually commute with each other, and this makes a commutative block cipher highly distinguishable from a randomly chosen permutation. Namely, suppose that there is a black box which implements either the block cipher $E_K$ (for some unknown key $K$), or a randomly chosen permutation. The attacker can submit plaintexts to encrypt (that's a chosen-plaintext attack scenario), and observe the result; his goal is to determine whether the box really implements $E_K$ for some $K$, or not. He then does the following:
In that sense, a commutative block cipher cannot be secure "as a block cipher". Commutative encryption can be secure only as part of a protocol in which the commutative encryption primitive is not used in the same way as, say, AES. What the scenario explained above means is that a deterministic commutative cipher cannot be "IND-CPA secure" (indistinguishable from a random permutation in a chosen-plaintext attack setup). So you need some randomness injected "somewhere", which may be some padding or an other feature of the overall protocol (e.g. encryption is only applied on values chosen randomly and uniformly in a given set, which are then used to derive a "normal" symmetric key, aka hybrid encryption).
Remember the “locked box puzzle” recounted on a “Security Now!” podcast (Episode #33, titled “Symmetric Block Ciphers”, 30 Mar 2006)?
Steve Gibson says:
Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte agreed that an eavesdropper seeing ALICE's cipher text before and after encryption could XOR both together and derive her secret key. However, if a complex, commutative cipher which doesn't use simple XORing to encrypt is used then I think the key exchange would be secure and the key exchange would work.
For example: Bob encrypts a message with his key. Alice encrypts Bob's encrypted above message with her key. ALICE sends above encrypted message back to Bob. Bob decrypts Alice's above message with his key. BOB sends above to ALICE. ALICE decrypts above with her key. Alice can now read BOB'S original decrypted cipher text and they didn't need to exchange keys. An eavesdropper attack will not work if the algorithm is not a simple XOR-ing of plain text and key.
This cipher is a commutative, complex algorithm.
Starting with a text file containing one character, an
This seems to be a simpler key exchange than PGP etc. All that's needed is that both parties use the same crypto-program and agree on an authenticator.
I confess to being a hobbyist. If anyone wants the C# program and/or the source code for the cipher (which targets Microsoft Windows), they may have it/them.
Below is example with longer, random keys.
To authenticate, simply add agreed upon passwords in plain text inside the message but not part of the message's ciphertext. needed only for last 2 exchanges. E.g.:
As Thomas Pornin said block cyphers cannot commute, but all stream cyphers would seemingly commute, not merely with themselves, but with different stream cyphers. A commonly used stream cypher is the ChaCha cypher in NaCL by DJB.
Now stream cyphers require care in their usage. In particular, NaCl wants two inputs, a key that must be kept secure, and a random nonce that need not be secure, but must never be reused. It might be tricky to apply this commutativity by making the key material and nonce available at exactly right point in time.
As an aside, one-time pads would usually be produced deterministically using stream cyphers, making the distinction slightly artificial in practice.