# Are there any special points on an elliptic curve which would weaken security?

So, according to the elliptic curve discrete logarithm problem:

$$A=[r]B$$

In which $$A$$ and $$B$$ are points on the curve, and r is the scalar. It is trivial to compute $$A=[r]B$$ if $$r$$ is known, but it would be incredibly difficult to find $$r$$ if $$r$$ is unknown.

Now, take bitcoin's elliptic curve as an example - secp256k1. Are there any "special" point $$B$$s on this curve which would allow an attacker, with knowledge of $$A$$ and $$B$$, to trivially compute $$r$$, and thus render the elliptic curve insecure?

• Not directly related to secp256k1, but a backdoor can be placed : Does the backdoor in Dual_EC_DRBG work like that? May 27, 2020 at 16:27
• probably not. Take a look at random self-reducibility for dlog. If such a set of points exists, it should be negligibly small. One can precompute such set himself too. May 27, 2020 at 16:53

Let's first consider your proposed secp256k1 curve. The order of the curve is prime, which means any (valid) point on the curve will generate the whole curve; for any choice of your base point $$G$$ except for the point at infinite $$\mathcal O$$, there are integers $$r$$ such that $$[r]G$$ reaches the whole curve. In other words, the only sub groups are the whole curve and the trivial group $$\{\mathcal O\}$$.
This is however is not true for all elliptic curves. In fact, many have a composite structure (order $$n=r\cdot h$$), consisting of a large subgroup of prime order $$r$$ and a "cofactor" $$h$$. This property can lead to a subgroup confinement attack. For more information about the cofactor, see this excellent answer. In order to avoid this, care has to be taken when these kinds of curves are used in protocols.