# All Questions

11answers
48k 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 ...
19answers
15k views

### Time Capsule cryptography?

Does there exist any cryptographic algorithm which encrypts data in such a way that it can only be decrypted after a certain period of time? The only idea that I can think of, is something like this: ...
3answers
32k views

### Should we trust the NIST-recommended ECC parameters?

Recent articles in the media, based upon Snowden documents, have suggested that the NSA has actively tried to enable surveillance by embedding weaknesses in commercially-deployed technology -- ...
4answers
60k views

### Why is elliptic curve cryptography not widely used, compared to RSA?

I recently ran across elliptic curve crypto-systems: An Introduction to the Theory of Elliptic Curves (Brown University) Elliptic Curve Cryptography (Wikipedia) Performance analysis of identity ...
8answers
22k views

### How much would it cost in U.S. dollars to brute force a 256 bit key in a year?

I am often told that any key can be broken and that it is only a matter of time and resources for any key to be broken. I know that this it technically true. However, I think that there is probably a ...
8answers
23k views

### How is CipherCloud doing homomorphic encryption?

Much of the literature and latest papers suggest that homomorphic encryption is still not practical yet. How is CipherCloud able to achieve this? Does anyone have an idea? Their website does not ...
11answers
6k views

### Is modern encryption needlessly complicated?

RSA, DES, AES, etc. all use (relatively) complicated mathematics to encrypt some message with some key. For each of these methods, there have been several documented vulnerabilities found over the ...
8answers
6k views

### Layman's explanation of encryption backdoors

Some times I read about "backdoors" in encryption algorithms in the media. I'd like to understand what such a backdoor actually consist of. Is it: a) a hidden weakness in the math formulas that ...
8answers
8k views

### Guarding against cryptanalytic breakthroughs: combining multiple hash functions

Assume I want to design a protocol (or data format or similar) including some cryptographic hash, and want it to be as future-proof as possible, i.e. I want to avoid that breakthroughs in cryptography ...
5answers
26k views

### How big an RSA key is considered secure today?

I think 1024 bit RSA keys were considered secure ~5 years ago, but I assume that's not true anymore. Can 2048 or 4096 keys still be relied upon, or have we gained too much computing power in the ...
4answers
11k views

### Why does the FBI ask Apple for help to decrypt an iPhone?

The current debate of the FBI trying to get Apple to assist in decrypting an iPhone made me wonder: Normally, upon turning on an iPhone, everything is decrypted using a 4-digit pin (or actually, a ...
5answers
29k views

### Technical feasibility of decrypting https by replacing the computer's PRNG

Intel has an on-chip RdRand function which supposedly bypasses the normally used entropy pool for /dev/urandom and directly injects output. Now rumors are going on that Intel works together with the ...
3answers
26k views

### How should I calculate the entropy of a password?

If part of the password is a whole regular English word, does the entropy of that part depend on the number of English words in existence, the number of English words known by the choosing algorithm, ...
5answers
21k views

### Is AES-256 weaker than 192 and 128 bit versions?

From a paper via Schneier on Security's Another AES Attack (emphasis mine): In the case of AES-128, there is no known attack which is faster than the 2128 complexity of exhaustive search. However, ...
1answer
26k 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?
7answers
38k views

### Taking advantage of one-time pad key reuse?

Suppose Alice wants to send encryptions (under a one-time pad) of $m_1$ and $m_2$ to Bob over a public channel. Alice and Bob have a shared key $k$; however, both messages are the same length as the ...
3answers
832 views

### Do these new insights into prime numbers affect encryption security?

Quanta Magazine reports: Two mathematicians have uncovered a simple, previously unnoticed property of prime numbers [...]. Prime numbers, it seems, have decided preferences about the final digits ...
6answers
36k views

### How can I generate large prime numbers for RSA?

What is the currently industry-standard algorithm used to generate large prime numbers to be used in RSA encryption? I'm aware that I can find any number of articles on the Internet that explain how ...
5answers
33k 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 ...
4answers
16k views

### How can I use asymmetric encryption, such as RSA, to encrypt an arbitrary length of plaintext?

RSA is not designed to be used on long blocks of plaintext like a block cipher, but I need to use it to send a large (encrypted) message. How can I do this?
1answer
3k views

### Why does my SSH private key still work after changing some bytes in the file?

I (for a test) just randomly altered a private RSA key by opening it up in Vim and changing a few bytes. It is the private part of an SSH key pair used for logging in on a remote system. Puzzlingly, ...
1answer
7k views

### What is the “Random Oracle Model” and why is it controversial?

What is the "Random Oracle Model"? Is it an "assumption" akin to the hardness of factoring and discrete log? Or something else? And why do some researchers have a strong distrust of this model?
7answers
52k views

### Should I use ECB or CBC encryption mode for my block cipher?

Can someone tell me which mode out of ECB and CBC is better, and how to decide which mode to use? Are there any other modes which are better? Edit: This question was asked long back when I was ...
4answers
28k views

### What are the practical differences between 256-bit, 192-bit, and 128-bit AES encryption?

AES has several different variants: AES-128 AES-192 AES-256 But why would someone prefer use one over another?
7answers
24k views

1answer
8k views

### No SHA-1 collision? Yet SHA-1 is broken?

Is there a known pair of distinct bit strings (A,B) such that SHA-1(A) == SHA-1(B)? If the answer is no than how can SHA-1 be considered broken?
2answers
3k views

### Signal vs Telegram in terms of protocols?

Some time ago, the question was asked in chat, why MTProto (Telegram's protocol) is supposedly worse than Axolotl (Signal's protocol) as both protocols have been the inventions of their respective ...
2answers
17k 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 ...
3answers
463 views

### How does RSA compute such enormous numbers?

So I have been reading and learning a lot about cryptography lately and in particular asymmetric ciphers such as RSA. One thing that I am curious about but never seems to be mentioned is how the ...
2answers
14k views

### What is the main difference between a key, an IV and a nonce?

What are the main differences between a nonce, a key and an IV? Without any doubt the key should be kept secret. But what about the nonce and the IV? What's the main difference between them and their ...
2answers
5k 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 ...
6answers
7k views

### Is there a simple hash function that one can compute without a computer?

I am looking for a hash function that is computable by hand (in reasonable time). The function should be at least a little bit secure: There should be no trivial way to find a collision (by hand). For ...
3answers
14k views

### Why is public-key encryption so much less efficient than secret-key encryption?

I'm currently reading Cryptography Engineering. After giving a high level explanation of the difference between secret-key encryption and public-key encryption, the book says: So why do we bother ...
6answers
10k views

### Is Convergent Encryption really secure?

Recently a company called Bitcasa demonstrated a product of cloud storage. they indicated that they would use "Convergent Encryption" to secure your data and de-duplicate, essentially one copy of the ...
2answers
5k views

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

Wikipedia lists the following pseudocode for HMAC: ...
7answers
32k views

### How does asymmetric encryption work?

I've always been interested in encryption but I have never found a good explanation (beginners explanation) of how encryption with public key and decryption with private key works. How does it ...

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