Hot answers tagged

102

The main difficulty with the one-time pad is that it requires pre-arrangement. In order for me to use a one-time pad to communicate with you, we must either have arranged ahead of time for a one-time pad that we will use (which must be as large as our communication will be), or else we must have some secure way of communicating that will allow us to agree on ...


82

@Ninefingers answers the question quite well; I just want to add a few details. Encrypt-then-MAC is the mode which is recommended by most researchers. Mostly, it makes it easier to prove the security of the encryption part (because thanks to the MAC, a decryption engine cannot be fed with invalid ciphertexts; this yields automatic protection against chosen ...


70

The reason that salts are used is that people tend to choose the same passwords, and not at all randomly. Many used passwords out there are short real words, to make it easy to remember, but this also enables for an attack. As you may know, passwords are generally not stored in cleartext, but rather hashed. If you are unsure of the purpose of a ...


67

There are two somewhat orthogonal concepts in backdooring encryption algorithms: The backdoor can be explicit or implicit. An explicit backdoor is one that everybody knows it is there. An implicit backdoor strives at remaining undetected by the algorithm owners. Of course, when there is an explicit backdoor, people tend to avoid the algorithm altogether, ...


65

Yes. There has been a lot of work on "proof of work" protocols or "time-lock puzzles." Typically in cryptography, functions are either easy to compute or intractable. These protocols look at functions that are moderately hard to compute. To do time-release encryption, you need a puzzle with the following properties: Difficulty of the puzzle can be ...


50

AES is an algorithm which is split into several internal rounds, and each round needs a specific 128-bit subkey (and an extra subkey is needed at the end). In an ideal world, the 11/13/15 subkeys would be generated from a strong, cryptographically secure PRNG, itself seeded with "the" key. However, this world is not ideal, and the subkeys are generated ...


47

For symmetric encryption algorithms, your question is basically "Why do we use AES or DES rather than another function that provides the same properties as AES or DES but forces us to use the second weakest chaining mode and never lets us use the same key twice?" Well, the answer is obvious, we sometimes want strong chaining modes and we often like to use ...


45

The difference between the PKCS#5 and PKCS#7 padding mechanisms is the block size; PKCS#5 padding is defined for 8-byte block sizes, PKCS#7 padding would work for any block size from 1 to 255 bytes. This is the definition of PKCS#5 padding (6.2) as defined in the RFC: The padding string PS shall consist of 8 - (||M|| mod 8) octets all having value 8 - ...


43

There is a theorem in cryptography that states that secure encryption and secure PRNG are equivalent, and in fact you just proved half of it. Given a secure PRNG, you can create a secure encryption algorithm using the method you just provided (using the key as the PRNG-seed). The other half is that given a secure encryption algorithm, you can create a ...


42

For practical purposes, 128-bit keys are sufficient to ensure security. The larger key sizes exist mostly to satisfy some US military regulations which call for the existence of several distinct "security levels", regardless of whether breaking the lowest level is already far beyond existing technology. The larger key sizes imply some CPU overhead (+20% for ...


40

No, because these new insights only affect the discovery and patterns regarding finding new prime numbers. In order to break existing encryption algorithms that rely on primes such as RSA, you'd have to have a breakthrough in discovering how to factor integers into primes. Primes are used in encryption keys as the basis of their generation: two large ...


39

The solution to this problem is to use hybrid encryption. Namely, this involves using RSA to asymmetrically encrypt a symmetric key. Randomly generate a symmetric encryption (say AES) key and encrypt the plaintext message with it. Then, encrypt the symmetric key with RSA. Transmit both the symmetrically encrypted text as well as the asymmetrically encrypted ...


36

A key, in the context of symmetric cryptography, is something you keep secret. Anyone who knows your key (or can guess it) can decrypt any data you've encrypted with it (or forge any authentication codes you've calculated with it, etc.). (There's also "asymmetric" or public key cryptography, where the key effectively has two parts: the private key, which ...


34

When encrypting something with RSA, using PKCS#1 v1.5, the data that is to be encrypted is first padded, then the padded value is converted into an integer, and the RSA modular exponentiation (with the public exponent) is applied. Upon decryption, the modular exponentiation (with the private exponent) is applied, and then the padding is removed. The core of ...


34

The answer is in the source, file sshrsag.c, line 9: #define RSA_EXPONENT 37 /* we like this prime */ This value $e=37$ matches the conditions for a reasonable fixed RSA public exponent: $e$ is odd, $e$ is at least $3$, $e$ is reasonably small. The later condition is good for speed of operations involving the public key (encryption, ...


33

If it's implemented properly, it is as secure as any other form of encryption in preventing those who don't know the data from obtaining it from the encrypted data. However, it does have one fundamental limitation that, so far as we know, is inherent in the technology -- Anyone who has the same file you have can potentially prove that you have that file. ...


33

Why shouldn't I use ECB encryption? The main reason not to use ECB mode encryption is that it's not semantically secure — that is, merely observing ECB-encrypted ciphertext can leak information about the plaintext (even beyond its length, which all encryption schemes accepting arbitrarily long plaintexts will leak to some extent). Specifically, the ...


26

There is a good article from Coppersmith which explains it. Basically, the designers of DES had envisioned differential cryptanalysis (a good 15 years before differential cryptanalysis was rediscovered by Biham and Shamir, and published); they could measure how well DES could resist differential cryptanalysis for a given set of S-boxes. So they generated a ...


26

The actual encryption algorithm is almost the same between all variants of AES. They all take a 128-bit block and apply a sequence of identical "rounds", each of which consists of some linear and non-linear shuffling steps. Between the rounds, a round key is applied (by XOR), also before the first and after the last round. The differences are: The longer ...


26

Hugo Krawczyk has a paper titled The Order of Encryption and Authentication for Protecting Communications (or: How Secure Is SSL?). It identifies 3 types of combining authentication (MAC) with encryption: Encrypt then Authenticate (EtA) used in IPsec; Authenticate then Encrypt (AtE) used in SSL; Encrypt and Authenticate (E&A) used in SSH. It proves ...


26

Theoretically you can do encryption of long messages with RSA, in the same way that you can encrypt a long message with a block cipher. This requires an appropriate chaining mode, e.g. CBC: each plaintext "block" is first XORed with (part of) the encrypted previous block. With RSA and proper padding, there is a per-block size overhead. Namely, with the ...


26

If the encryption system is any good, then no. The output of a (symmetric) encryption algorithm is supposed to be indistinguishable from pure random. If you can distinguish encryption output from pure random with probability greater than 1/2 (i.e. you are given two strings of bits, and you can tell which one comes from an encryption system with better ...


26

I wouldn't assume that the NSA has cracked AES ciphers. I would assume that most crypto systems that use AES have implementation flaws that the NSA exploits when they feel it is worth it. In any case, when the only possible way a state can know something is by breaking a cipher, it's difficult for them to use that information; doing so would reveal that ...


25

First : Welcome to Crypto.SE. Even though you are quite young, it should not be a reason for someone to stop you : Alan Turing was 23 (still undergraduate) when he undermined the work of Alonzo Church (on untyped $\lambda$-Calculus). I'm not saying you should always provide your idea, but if you can defend them, have fun. About your cipher : The first ...


24

Well, the standard answer is to preserve compatibility with DES; a hardware circuit that implemented 3DES (with EDE) could also be used to do DES as well (by, say, making all three subkeys the same). Now, there is one slight problem with this straightforward argument; 3DES (EEE, that is, with three encrypt operations) would have this property as well; if we ...


23

Set up a relay on alpha centauri and transmit the key to it. Absolutely guaranteed 8 year delay until the key is available.


23

Caveat: as very rightly pointed in that other answer, using a fixed/no IV does make some attacks less difficult. I wish the following answer would have been less affirmative. I have accordingly made adjustments in italic. There's no imperious need for an IV when unique keys are used. When each key is used only to encipher a single message, it is reasonably ...



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