(or message authentication code), a short piece of information used to authenticate a message, and the algorithm to create and check such information, using a secret key.

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140
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8answers
31k views

Should we MAC-then-encrypt or encrypt-then-MAC?

Most of the time, when some data must be encrypted, it must also be protected with a MAC, because encryption protects only against passive attackers. There are some nifty encryption modes which ...
27
votes
1answer
13k views

What are the differences between a digital signature, a MAC and a hash?

A message may be accompanied with a digital signature, a MAC or a message hash, as a proof of some kind. Which assurances does each primitive provide to the recipient? What kind of keys are needed?
23
votes
2answers
3k views

Why is H(k||x) not a secure MAC construction?

If H(m) is a secure hash function, can't we implement a MAC using H(k||m)? However, it seems the more widely used MACs, such as NMAC and HMAC (both originally defined in Keying hash functions for ...
20
votes
3answers
868 views

Purpose of outer key in HMAC

From what I know, the HMAC constructions has two strength: It's resistant to length extensions Since the key is consumed before the message, the attacker does not know the initial state, preventing ...
17
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is plain-hash-then-encrypt not a secure MAC?

It seems that even in MAC-then-encrypt systems like SSL, something like HMAC is used rather than a plain hash. Why? Suppose we use some stream cipher; then why can't we use $Encrypt(m | H(m))$ as ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Is H(k||length||x) a secure MAC construction?

If $H$ is a typical secure hash function, then $(k,x) \mapsto H(k \mid\mid x)$ is not a secure MAC construction, because given a known plaintext $x_1$ and its MAC $m_1$, an attacker can extend $k ...
13
votes
1answer
9k views

HMAC vs MAC functions

I've read definitions of MAC and HMAC, but can't say I've completely grasped the differences. What are principle differences? When to use one and when the other?(Typical Use Cases)
13
votes
2answers
833 views

Attacks of the MAC construction $\mathcal{H}(m||k)$ for common hashes $\mathcal{H}$?

Consider a common practically-collision-resistant hash function $\mathcal{H}$ (e.g. SHA-1, SHA-256, SHA-512, RIPEMD-160), perhaps based on the Merkle–Damgård construction as are the first three. We ...
11
votes
2answers
450 views

Can I use HMAC-SHA1 in counter mode to make a stream cipher?

Say I have an embedded device which is only capable of doing HMAC-SHA1 transformations (that device is, in fact, a YubiKey). Would it be secure to feed it like a block cipher in counter mode to get a ...
10
votes
9answers
488 views

Physical analogue for MACs

What would be a good analogue with which to describe Message Authentication Codes to a person who has little to no understanding of cryptography? For instance, a vault is a reasonable analogue for ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

Why is it insecure to use a randomized IV for CBC-MAC instead of an all-zero IV?

A fixed length CBC-MAC uses an all-zero block as the initialization vector. Suppose that we used a randomized IV instead, and sent the IV along with the tag. So if the message $m$ will be $m = b_1 || ...
10
votes
3answers
801 views

UMAC: to what extent is it in use today?

Inspired slightly by the Encrypt-then-MAC question. The most obvious message authentication code is probably HMAC or RFC 2104 which is basically a hash of the input, an xor with a key... you get the ...
10
votes
2answers
793 views

Is the encryption of a hash a good MAC?

At university we were told that it is a bad idea to implement a MAC by simply concatenating a key with the data to sign and to run it through a hash function (e.g. $s = ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Use cases for CMAC vs. HMAC?

Both can be used to verify the integrity of a message. Assuming you have the needed primitives available to you (i.e. the code space of needing both a cipher and a hash function isn't prohibitive), is ...
9
votes
2answers
299 views

Definition of “pepper” in hash functions

I am confused about the notion of "pepper" in the context of storing hashes of users' passwords. Definition 1: A pepper is a secret key Looking around the Internet, for example here or here, a ...
9
votes
1answer
500 views

Cryptographically secure keyed rolling hash function

I could not find any mention on the Internet of a proven/known cryptographically secure keyed rolling hash function (ie rolling MAC). Has the question been studied, is it possible to build one ? By ...
9
votes
2answers
180 views

Why is Poly1305 popular given its 'sudden death' properties?

ECDSA has the undesirable property that if a key pair reuses a nonce in a signing operation, the cryptosystem experiences catastrophic failure in the form of private key leakage. I've heard this ...
8
votes
1answer
190 views

Can Skein be used as a secure MAC in format H(k || m)?

Can Skein be used as a secure MAC in format H(k || m)? I understand it can work with HMAC, but it is fine as a one-pass MAC in the format above and resists length extension attacks. Is this ...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the purpose of four different secrets shared by client and server in SSL/TLS?

I was looking through the working of SSL V3, and found that a connection state is defined by a set of things, including client write mac secret, server write mac secret, server write key, client ...
8
votes
2answers
840 views

Why is h(m||k) insecure?

Here is the post that explains the failure for doing h(k||m) and I understand it. But I don't understand how h(m||k) is subjected to collison attack, or birthday attack. Please explain?
7
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the difference between MAC and HMAC?

In reference to this question, what are the "stronger security properties" that HMAC provides over MAC. I got that MAC requires an IV whereas HMAC doesn't. I also understood that MAC may reveal ...
7
votes
2answers
271 views

Why have hashes when you have MACs?

It would seem to a naive eye that if you have a MAC, you have a hash function: use a key that all the parties know (such as all-bits-zero). A potential application would be a resource-constrained ...
7
votes
1answer
767 views

Why are MACs in general deterministic, whereas digital signature constructions are randomized?

The fact is I'm not quite sure if my question statement is true, however all the MAC constructions I know of (e.g. CBC-MAC, CMAC, HMAC) are deterministic, whereas many constructions for digital ...
7
votes
1answer
926 views

In which situations is a length-extension attack a problem?

A lot of hash functions, including the SHA-2 family(but not the SHA-3 candidates and SHA256d) are vulnerable to length extension attacks. But when is this property a problem? I guess certain naive ...
6
votes
2answers
241 views

Why don't we use MACs to store passwords?

These days, the best practice for storing passwords is to use a scheme like scrypt or bcrypt. The goal of these schemes is to make dictionary attack inefficient for an attacker but it also slows down ...
6
votes
3answers
313 views

Why is a MAC needed?

I agree that for certain encryption systems or modes of operation, a MAC is indispensible. The best example are probably stream ciphers (and therefore also block ciphers in OFB or CTR mode) that ...
6
votes
2answers
209 views

Is the HMAC construction really neccessary for a fixed length message?

The HMAC Construction is defined as: Hash( (Key XOR opad) || Hash((Key XOR ipad) || Message) ) This was designed because a simpler construction such as: ...
6
votes
2answers
238 views

Does there exist a proof-of-retrievability scheme that is publicly-verifiable, limited-use, and does not use homomorphic encryption?

I find myself wanting to test out a practical implementation of a proof-of-retrievability scheme, simply out of curiosity. These schemes seem to be divided into two variations, publicly-verified and ...
6
votes
1answer
652 views

Practical uses of Manipulation Detection Code (MDC) and IGE

I've just skimmed over most of the paper "On Message Integrity in Symmetric Encryption". I've included (the last) part of the abstract below: We show that generic compositions of ...
6
votes
1answer
282 views

How does NaCL Poly1305 implementation do modular multiplication?

The NaCL ref implementation of Poly1305 performs modular multiplication to calculate a polynomial $\mod 2^{130} - 5$ using the following modular multiplication ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

ChaCha cipher + Poly1305

The Poly1305-AES paper summarizes the MAC as $$ \mathrm{Poly1305}(m, \mathrm{AES}_k(n)) = {H_r(m) + \mathrm{AES}_k(n)} \mod 2^{128} $$ Can I presume that $+$ here is just meant as a form of 16-byte ...
6
votes
1answer
255 views

Why do we encrypt-then mac but sign-then-encrypt?

This question was asked in comments on my answer to should we sign then encrypt or encrypt then sign. I think posing the question as a separate entity is best, so: The general advice for applying ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Encrypt-then-MAC Confidentiality, Integrity and Authenticity

Does Encrypt-then-MAC provide equal confidentiality, integrity and authenticity as other constructs such as EAX? If yes, how do I go about using it? My current understanding is: E = ...
6
votes
1answer
275 views

Can Poly1305 be used with block ciphers running in CTR mode?

Is the use of Poly1305 limited to stream ciphers? (note, I'm not talking about Poly1305-AES )? Can it be used with block ciphers running in CTR mode? If so, what other considerations/limitations are ...
5
votes
3answers
634 views

Can I jettison MAC if I already have SHA1(M)?

I'm currently using SSL with AES-CBC and HMAC for a file transfer containing string M. Now suppose Alice already knows SHA1(M) (and the adversary does not), and she downloads M from Bob using only ...
5
votes
1answer
192 views

Proof that MACing a hash of the message is also a secure MAC

I found a theorem that says: Let $MAC = (S,V)$ be a MAC for short messages over $(K,M,T)$. Let $H: M^{big} → M$. Define $MAC^{big} = (S^{big},V^{big})$ over $(K,M^{big},T)$ as: $S^{big}(k,m) = ...
5
votes
2answers
244 views

Secure way to derive separate encryption and MAC keys from a single master key?

I want to derive a 256 bit encryption key and a 256 bit MAC key from a single 256 bit master key for an authenticated encryption scheme. I was considering the following construction to derive the two ...
5
votes
1answer
53 views

Keys in HMAC and NMAC

I'm quite new to this topic and have several questions concerning HMAC and NMAC: Why does NMAC need two keys? How can it be attacked if we just used some sort of initialization vector instead of the ...
5
votes
2answers
274 views

Block-cipher based vs Hash based MAC

When it comes to MAC algorithms one can have many choices. CBC-MAC, CMAC, PMAC etc are some MAC algorithms that rely on block ciphers (ex AES) to generate a MAC. On the other hand HMAC is very popular ...
5
votes
1answer
275 views

Is HMAC needed for a SHA-3 based MAC?

HMAC does nested hashing in order to prevent Length Extension Attacks. Given that you use the SHA-3 hash (which is resistant against length extension attacks), would you still need to go through that ...
5
votes
1answer
155 views

How would you encrypt-then-MAC when using pen-and-paper and a Caesar cipher?

I'll probably get shot for asking this, but I've got some kids (aged 8-10) in my neighbourhood that I've been showing/teaching the simple pen-and-paper Caesar cipher and they're successfully playing ...
5
votes
2answers
416 views

Cost of attacking Mobile OTP with a fake server

You want to obtain a 74-bit secret $K$. There is an oracle that will provide you with the following value for several values of $T$: ...
5
votes
2answers
276 views

Does data authenticity always, implicitly, provide data integrity?

Does a scheme which provides data authenticity (e.g. HMAC or RSA signature) always implicitly provide integrity? It seems, to me at least, that it must by necessity. However, I have seen ...
5
votes
1answer
245 views

HMAC construction based on the combination of two hash functions

I would like an $\operatorname{HMAC}$ that's based on two different hash functions ($H_1$ and $H_2$), so that a break of the combined $\operatorname{HMAC}$ would imply a break of ...
4
votes
2answers
225 views

Is SHA1 secure with such many inputs Z that Z = constant secret X + variable public Y?

Let me ask whether SHA1 is designed to be secure for the following case. You compute each SHA1 of many strings,for example 1 million, where each string is a concatenation of X+Y , where X is secret ...
4
votes
1answer
228 views

The difference between MAC algorithms and what to use

I've been looking into message authentication codes and found several ways to create integrity for a message. I know of the following algorithms: HMAC, this can use any cryptograhpic hash function ...
4
votes
1answer
283 views

Why are collision attacks important when talking about MAC schemes?

I'm reading Ferguson, Schneier, and Kouno's Cryptography Engineering, and it has a section on MACs. It discusses different types of MACs, but it seems to claim that to acheive 128-bit level security, ...
4
votes
1answer
553 views

Why is H(message||secret_key) not vulnerable to length-extension attack?

Given a Merkle-Damgård hash function $H$, I know that an attacker can forge a message protected by a MAC computed as $H(\textrm{secret_key}||\textrm{message})$. Why can't he perform the same ...
4
votes
1answer
191 views

What are the consequences of a MAC tag collision?

I've seen some proofs of MAC security that are based on the extremely-unlikely event that two MAC tags collide (ie, they are equal for distinct messages). Suppose that this extremely unlikely event ...
4
votes
1answer
376 views

For a one-time pad, which MAC method is information-theoretically secure?

In the the main post about MAC methods it mentions a few methods: Authenticate And Encrypt: The sender computes a MAC of the plaintext, encrypts the plaintext, and then appends the MAC to the ...