19
votes
4answers
12k views

Basic explanation of Elliptic Curve Cryptography?

I have been studying Elliptic Curve Cryptography as part of a course based on the book Cryptography and Network Security. The text for provides an excellent theoretical definition of the algorithm but ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

With sufficient randomness, is XOR an acceptable mechanism for encrypting?

I have heard criticism of various cryptosystems saying that "at their heart, they were just XOR." Is this just ignorance, or is there something inherently wrong with XOR based ciphers?
18
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the lowest level of mathematics required in order to understand how encryption algorithms work?

What mathematical fields of knowledge would be required in order to get a good understanding of encryption algorithms? Is it basic algebra, or is there a "higher education" mathematical field ...
18
votes
2answers
6k views

Why use an Initialization Vector (IV)?

Why use an Initialization Vector (IV)? How are IV's used? What are the advantages/disadvantages of using an IV? Why use an IV instead of a longer key in which some section of the key is pubic? What ...
18
votes
3answers
5k views

Is it possible to derive the encryption method from encrypted text?

Is it possible to identify the encryption method, or at least rule out some of them, by looking at the encrypted text? For example, if you have 3 encrypted strings where the first 10 characters are ...
18
votes
4answers
1k views

How to fairly select a random number for a game without trusting a third party?

Several people are playing a game with random events and require a way to produce a random number. (Such as dice rolls or a lottery.) Can this be done such that each player has the power to be ...
18
votes
2answers
4k views

What is entropy?

We discuss a lot of topics and use measures of entropy to determine how difficult it is for an attacker to be successful. What does entropy mean in the context of cryptography? How is entropy ...
18
votes
1answer
12k views

What is the difference between PKCS#5 padding and PKCS#7 padding

One runtime platform provides an API that supplies PKCS#5 padding for block cipher modes such as ECB and CBC. These modes have been defined for the triple DES, AES and Blowfish block ciphers. The ...
18
votes
5answers
4k views

Current mathematics theory used in cryptography/coding theory

What are the mainstream techniques borrowed from algebraic geometry (or some other branch of mathematics) which are currently used in cryptography/coding theory? I've only heard about a small subset ...
18
votes
1answer
875 views

Selective format-compliant JPEG encryption?

I am working towards building a format-compliant encryption system for pictures. The aim of it is to be able to obscure specific areas of a picture (i.e. faces, car license numbers...) while keeping ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Reverse engineering a hash?

I understand this may not be the best place to ask a question like this, but I believe that this community may be the best/only place I can ask such a question. I have inputs and outputs from an ...
17
votes
5answers
2k views

Could RDRAND (Intel) compromise entropy?

I was recently discussing the issue of RDRAND in Intel chips and the whole issue about how NSA could potentially be influencing Intel to weaken or create backdoors in their design. This petition was ...
17
votes
1answer
8k 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?
17
votes
3answers
974 views

How secure is the Bitcoin protocol?

Are there any evidence (other than not being cracked so far) that the Bitcoin protocol is secure? "How secure" is it? (I realize that this might not qualify as a meaningful question - feel free to ...
17
votes
3answers
362 views

What differentiates a password hash from a cryptographic hash besides speed?

I understand that password hashes like bcrypt have the principal property of taking a long time to run, but I'm wondering what if anything about password hashes make them superior to merely running a ...
17
votes
3answers
1k views

Is using slow password hashing on the client side easier attackable than on the server side?

As we know, one should use a slow password hashing algorithm instead of a fast one for storing passwords, to hinder brute force attacks when the database is compromised. The problem with this is that ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Should I trust CipherCloud? [closed]

Should I trust CipherCloud's system for "homomorphic encryption" of data in the cloud? Has the security of their system been subject to peer review or other cryptanalysis? Is there any known analysis ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

What do the magic numbers 0x5c and 0x36 in the opad/ipad calc in HMAC do?

Wikipedia lists the following pseudocode for HMAC: ...
17
votes
1answer
503 views

How secure would HMAC-SHA3 be?

It would be possible to implement the HMAC construction with (draft) SHA-3, leading to HMAC-SHA3-224, HMAC-SHA3-256, HMAC-SHA3-384, HMAC-SHA3-512 (the last 3 digits are the output size $\ell$, where ...
16
votes
9answers
2k views

Why not the one-time pad with pseudo-number generator

I am very new to cryptography (so be kind), but I have a question that may seem silly. If the one-time pad is the perfect cipher and impossible to crack, why would the following algorithm not be one ...
16
votes
5answers
1k views

Is it feasible to build an index of prime factors?

Would it be possible to break an RSA key, in for example 1 week of time, if the cracker have already spent X number of years building an index of primes by performing every permutation of existing ...
16
votes
5answers
438 views

Why are primes important for encryption

Why are primes so important? Why can't we just use a random number? My guess is that it's because finding a random prime require more computing power, than finding a random number. Can anybody confirm ...
16
votes
4answers
8k views

Why is AES resistant to known-plaintext attacks?

At least it's my understanding that AES isn't affected by known-plaintext. Is it immune to such an attack, or just resistant? Does this vary for chosen-plaintext?
16
votes
3answers
3k views

For Diffie-Hellman, must g be a generator?

Due to a number of recently asked questions about Diffie-Hellman, I was thinking this morning: must $g$ in Diffie-Hellman be a generator? Recall the mathematics of Diffie-Hellman: Given public ...
16
votes
7answers
3k views

How can SSL secure a two-way communication with only one key-pair?

As I understand it, SSL involved the use of a public-private key pair. How does this enable two-way communication? Suppose I have some server with which I wish to communicate securely. I connect to ...
16
votes
3answers
621 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 ...
16
votes
1answer
4k views

Why do we use encrypt-decrypt-encrypt (EDE) in 3DES, rather than encrypting three times?

I'm wondering why we use encrypt-decrypt-encrypt sequence in 3DES with three keys instead of three times encryption with three different keys?
16
votes
1answer
4k views

Why can't one implement bcrypt in Cuda?

I had heard that although it's easy to implement message digest functions like MD5, SHA-1, SHA-256 etc. in CUDA (or any other GPU platform), it is impossible to implement bcrypt there. bcrypt is ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Hashing or encrypting twice to increase security?

Over on the bitcoin forums I asked why the bitcoin client computes SHA-256(SHA-256(x)) as its cryptographic hash for a variety of purposes. The leading theory--since the bitcoin author has ...
16
votes
3answers
8k views

Should we sign-then-encrypt, or encrypt-then-sign?

We often want to send messages that are both (a) encrypted, so passive attackers can't discover the plaintext of the message, and (b) signed with a private-key digital signature, so active attackers ...
16
votes
1answer
594 views

How to provide secure “vanity” bitcoin address service?

Bitcoin addresses are RIPEMD-160 hashes of the public portion of a public/private ECDSA keypair (along with an abbreviated hash of the hash to provide a check code, as @pulpspy notes in a comment). ...
15
votes
3answers
11k views

Can you help me understand what a cryptographic “salt” is?

I'm a beginner to cryptography and looking to understand in very simple terms what a cryptographic "salt" is, when I might need to use it, and why I should or should not use it. Can anyone offer me a ...
15
votes
7answers
2k views

Is calculating a hash code for a large file in parallel less secure than doing it sequentially?

I would like to improve the performance of hashing large files, say for example in the tens of gigabytes in size. Normally, you sequentially hash the bytes of the files using a hash function (say, ...
15
votes
6answers
6k views

Is Diffie-Hellman mathematically the same as RSA?

Is the Diffie-Hellman key exchange the same as RSA? Diffie Hellman allows key exchange on a observed wire – but so can RSA. Alice and Bob want to exchange a key – Big brother is watching everything. ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Does RSA work for any message M?

I decided to read the original RSA paper A Method for Obtaining Digital Signatures and Public-Key Cryptosystem because of a question I had about RSA (which is not the question I'm about to ask, but ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

What exactly is a negligible (and non-negligible) function?

The mathematical definition of neglible and non-neglible functions is fairly clear-cut, but why they are important and how they are used in cryptography?
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Blum Blum Shub vs. AES-CTR or other CSPRNGs

Following on from D.W.'s comments on a previous question, what properties does Blum Blum Shub have that make it better / worse than other PRNGs? Are there significant implementation difficulties or ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Is HTTPS secure if someone snoops the initial handshake?

Let's say I'm on an open wireless network that's being actively sniffed and I connect to an HTTPS site. Even though my subsequent traffic is encrypted, couldn't the sniffer use the data from the ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

understanding a length extension attack

I have been trying to understand exactly how a length extension attack works on SHA-1. I'll detail below what I've understood so far, so that I can convey my understanding of the same and hopefully ...
15
votes
3answers
815 views

What is so special about elliptic curves?

There seems to be sources like this, this also, and some introductions that discuss elliptic curves in general and how they're used. But what I'd like to know is why these particular curves are so ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Is Wiener's attack on RSA extendable to larger keys with low hamming weight?

Using small private exponents with RSA improves performance. However, it has been shown (Wiener, 1990) that if $\log d \leq \frac14 \log N$, the private exponent $d$ can be reconstructed from the ...
15
votes
6answers
614 views

Can I encrypt user input in a way I can't decrypt it for a certain period of time?

I run a baseball league and would like to do silent auctions for free agents. This would require teams to enter their highest bid and the highest bidder at the end of the auction period would win. ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Is the CBC weakness in XML Encryption a new discovery? Are other applications vulnerable?

The RUB in Germany reports that XML encryption is broken. This is essentially the W3C standard for protecting XML documents from prying eyes. Does this mean that an attacker can only see a single ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Why should I use an Initialization Vector (IV) when I have unique keys?

I took a look at this question. My question is not the same. I've unique keys encrypting (in CBC mode, AES-256) each plaintext, i.e. I do not use a key to encrypt more than one plaintext. Is it ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

How robust is discrete logarithm in $GF(2^n)$?

"Normal" discrete logarithm based cryptosystems (DSA, Diffie-Hellman, ElGamal) work in the finite field of integers modulo a big prime p. However, there exist other finite fields out there, in ...
15
votes
1answer
1k views

Should I use the first or last bits from a SHA-256 hash?

I have the need for a hexadecimal token that is smaller than the normal length of the hexadecimal representation of a SHA-256 hash. Should I take the first bits or the last bits? Which of them ...
15
votes
2answers
525 views

What is the general justification for the hardness of finding preimages for cryptographic hash functions?

Since most cryptographic hash functions are simple, compact constructions does this simplicity impose a limit on the complexity and the size of a function that can generate preimages? That is, given a ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

Is every output of a hash function possible?

Is every output of a hash function (e.g. SHA1, MD5, etc) guaranteed to be possible, or, conversely, are there any output values that cannot possibly be created from any input? If so, what guarantees ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What are the main weaknesses, if any, of a Playfair cipher?

What are the main weaknesses, if any, of a Playfair cipher? I know that they depend on none of the letters missing, but that is an easy fix if a letter gets dropped. Besides that, are there any other ...
15
votes
1answer
509 views

What exactly is the base for the KECCAK (SHA3) claim that a security strength of 256 bits is “post-quantum sufficient”?

On page 14 of "Keccak and the SHA-3 Standardization" (February 6, 2013) it says: Instantiation of a sponge function the permutation KECCAK-f 7 permutations: b → ...

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