First of all, this is purely a thought experiment. The width of Gimli isn't even a power of two (384 bits), and secondary storage bus speeds aren't even worth using a high performance permutation like Gimli. So from a practical perspective, this is totally pointless.

But it's nonetheless an interesting one. And from it, I have three concrete questions that can be considered:

  1. Can we build a tweakable bijective keyed permutation from just a pseudo-random forward permutation?

  2. Is there a practical disk encryption system using only forward permutation?

  3. How do we interpret the "new conventional wisdom" that "a permutation is a better unified primitive than a block cipher"?

Gimli paper can be here.


Disclaimer: I'm one of the authors of the said permutation.

  1. Gimli does not aim to be used as a block cipher (in the traditional sense of it: $x \to (\sigma \circ K_{\mathit{add}})^{\mathit{nb}_{\mathit{rounds}}}$ with a block size of 384 bits or similar constructions); it is better to use it with a sponge construction such a Monkey-Duplex/Monkey-Wrap or Farfalle.
    An example of such a construction would be the design of Ketje Sr.

  2. No Idea.

  3. Imagine there's no blockciphers, it's easy if you try :-)

    Joan Daemen at FSE 2017 [abstract] [slides]

    (I really advise you to have a look at the slides.)

    The idea is here is to have a unique permutation (Gimli? :D) on which you can derive the rest (hash functions, CPRNG, etc.). Sure you can use a Davies–Mayer or Even–Mansour with Merkle–Damgård construction to build a hash function from a blockcipher. But using a sponge construction is more elegant and efficient: you only have one code for the permutation and the design is easier to read (thus understand and verify).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Side note: It's always possible to turn any forward permutation into a generic block cipher using Feistel network. $\endgroup$
    – DannyNiu
    Aug 20 '17 at 12:03
  • $\begingroup$ @DannyNiu But performance isn't ideal anyway. crypto.stackexchange.com/questions/44007 $\endgroup$
    – DannyNiu
    Aug 20 '17 at 12:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Biv Are you going to revisit it, after Mike Hamburg's cryptanalysis of 22.5 rounds of GIMLI? $\endgroup$ Aug 20 '17 at 23:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ We don't know yet, but we are discussing about it internally (no public statement yet). $\endgroup$
    – Biv
    Aug 20 '17 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ The Gimli paper states “Gimli can easily be used to build high-security block ciphers, tweakable block ciphers...”, so what is the proposed mechanism the authors had in mind for doing so? An unbalanced Feistel network with Gimli as the round function would be terribly inefficient, wouldn't it? $\endgroup$
    – rmalayter
    Jul 3 '18 at 18:32

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