When generating a prime $p$ for use in an RSA modulus with public exponent $e$, it is necessary that $\gcd(p-1,e)=1$. When $e=3$, and since $p$ is a large prime, that implies $p\bmod e=2$.

Assume an RSA key generation procedure for 1024-bit primes used for a 2048-bit modulus is written to always generate primes with $p\bmod e=2$, for both factors, including for large $e$ supplied as a parameter at key generation.

For what values of $e$ does this have any dire consequence?

Note: I know no circumstance making this assumption hold, not even a CTF. And that would not be a subtle way to rig the key generator, since that's externally detectable from the public key because $N\bmod e=4$ always holds.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you assume any upper bound on $e$ (e.g. $e < 2^{256}$ as in FIPS186-4)? For very large $e$ (i.e. $e > 2^{512}$) you should at least be able to use Coppersmith's. $\endgroup$
    – took
    Jul 13, 2020 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @took: the only assumption I made so far is the one stated. Since the situation is totally hypothetical, anyone's free to make further assumptions. The lower the $e$ allowing attack, the better. $\endgroup$
    – fgrieu
    Jul 13, 2020 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


Very large exponents $e$

Assuming that $e > 2^t$ where $t > 514$ we may use Coppersmith's attack to factorize $N$ efficiently. By this answer I only intend to exemplify that for some public exponents $e$ the given condition on the primes makes it significantly easier to factorize the RSA modulus. In particular it is worth noting that public exponents $e$ that conform to the FIPS 186-4 standard are less that $2^{256}$, and are therefore not susceptible to the following.

The following (essentially) appears in [1].

Theorem (Coppersmith) Let $N$ be an integer of unknown factorization which has a divisor $b \geq N^\beta$, $0 < \beta \leq 1$. Let $0 < \epsilon \leq \frac{1}{7}\beta$. Furthermore, let $f(x)$ be a univariate monic polynomial of degree $\delta$. Then we can find all solutions $x_0$ of the equation $f(x) \equiv 0 \bmod b$ such that $$|x_0| \leq \frac{1}{2}N^{\beta^2/\delta - \epsilon}$$ using a LLL-reduction on a lattice of dimension $\leq \frac{\beta}{\epsilon} + \frac{1}{\beta}$.

We will apply this theorem for $\beta = 1/2$, $\delta = 1$, $b = p$ where $p$ is the larger of the two prime factors of the public RSA modulus $N = pq$, and $\epsilon = (t - 514)/2046$. To find a suitable polynomial $f$ we note the following.

Note that $p \bmod e = 2$ implies that there is some integer $x$ such that $p = ex + 2$. If we can find this $x$ we can determine $p$. Now, note that $$ex + 2 = p \Rightarrow e_0 ex + 2e_0 = e_0 p,$$ where $e_0$ is the modular inverse of $e$ modulo $N$ (which is expected to be easy to determine), say $e_0 e = 1 + \ell N$. Furthermore, note that the right hand equation may be rewritten as $x + 2e_0 = e_0 p - \ell N x$ which implies $x + 2e_0 \equiv 0 \bmod{p}$. Hence, we have that any solution $x$ to $p = ex + 2$ must also be a solution to $f(x) \equiv 0 \bmod{p}$ where $f$ is the monic degree 1 polynomial defined as $$f(x) = x + 2e_0.$$

Now, applying Coppersmith's theorem, with the given parameter values, we get that we find all solutions $x_0$ such that $$|x_0| \leq \frac{1}{2} N^{1/4 - (t-514)/2046}$$ using a LLL-reduction of a lattice of dimension $\leq \frac{1023}{t-512} + 2$.

Finally, we want to show that the $x$ such that $p = ex + 2$ is among the solutions found above. For this we have to show that such an $x$ must satisfy $$|x| \leq \frac{1}{2} N^{1/4 - (t-514)/2046}.$$ We can do this by noting that since $p = ex + 2$ we have $x \leq p/e \leq 2^{1024-t}$. Now, $N = pq > 2^{2046}$ and thus $$2^{1024-t} \leq \frac{1}{2}N^{1/4 - (t-514)/2046},$$ as desired. Hence, one of the solutions $x_0$ found by the LLL-reduction in Coppersmith's theorem is the sought after $x$. To determine which solution is the correct one all we have to do is a trail division of $N$ by each $ex_0 + 2$.

Remark: We can at least do some small improvemets to the above, e.g. by noting that $x$ has to be odd so really we may start with an equation of the form $p = 2ey + e + 2$ instead.

[1] May A. (2009) Using LLL-Reduction for Solving RSA and Factorization Problems. In: Nguyen P., Vallée B. (eds) The LLL Algorithm. Information Security and Cryptography. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg


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