I am trying to understand if it possible to use DLP to build a keyed one-way function with the following properties:

  1. $H_a(H_b(M)) = H_c(M)$, where $a$ and $b$ are the keys, and $c=a*b$
  2. The output of the function is relatively small - e.g. 256 bits

The function itself could be $h_a=M^a$ mod $p$, where $p$ is a 256-bit prime. However, I'm not sure how secure this would be given that the prime is pretty small. Specifically, I want to understand if the following would hold:

  1. Given $h_a$ and $p$, it would be impractical to compute $M$
  2. Given $h_a$, $M$, $c$, and $p$, it would be impractical to compute $a$

The messages I need to process are relatively small (256 - 512 bits), but can be padded if that would increase security.


An adversary who can compute discrete logs modulo $p$, given oracle access to $H_a$ for unknown $a$, can compute $\log_2 H_a(2) \equiv \log_2 2^a \equiv a \pmod p$ with a single query to the oracle.

After that, given $h = H_a(M)$ for unknown $M$, they can compute $$h^{a^{-1}} \equiv (M^a)^{a^{-1}} \equiv M^{a\cdot a^{-1}} \equiv M \pmod p,$$ where $a^{-1}$ is the inverse of $a$ modulo $\phi(p) = p - 1$.

If $p$ is 256 bits, adversaries can compute discrete logs modulo $p$ today. You need $p \gg 1024$ to be safe, among other criteria.

It might be helpful to go into more detail about why you need these properties, and what you are trying to achieve more generally.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! This makes sense. I need these properties for a zero-knowledge info sharing system I'm designing. It seems like Pohlig-Hellman cipher would work for me (based on this) - but it produces ciphertext that is pretty large (compared to my message sizes). So, I was trying to figure out if it would be possible to reduce the output size by making it a one-way-function, but it doesn't seem so. $\endgroup$ – irakliy Apr 7 '18 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ But you actually can secure discrete logarithms using ECC using curves like curve25519 or P-256 $\endgroup$ – VincBreaker Apr 8 '18 at 6:13

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