I have been trying to come up with a proof of the following statement,

Suppose a cryptosystem achieves perfect secrecy for a particular plaintext probability distribution then Prove that perfect secrecy is maintained for "any" plaintext probability distribution.

Well I know that the perfect secrecy scheme is independent of plaintext distribution, but how to prove the above statement? Any help would be appreciated.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What have you tried so far? Which definition are you using for perfect secrecy? $\endgroup$
    – ambiso
    Nov 30, 2020 at 9:56
  • $\begingroup$ Shannon Theorem :if |K| = |C| = |P| then the system provides perfect secrecy iff (1) every key is used with equal probabilify 1/|K|, and (2) for every x ${\in}$ P and y ${\in}$ C, there exists a unique key k${ \in}$ K such that $${e_k(x)=y}$$ $\endgroup$
    – SSA
    Nov 30, 2020 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ so given a ciphertext, an attacker can no find the plaintext. Pr[p/c]= Pr[p], i.e given a ciphertext probability of a plaintext is same as probability of a plaintext alone. Which is attack can't learn anything from ciphertext about a plaintext. so, if one particular plaintext has perfect secrecy (in thoery) then 'any' plaintext has perfect secrecy. $\endgroup$
    – SSA
    Nov 30, 2020 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ I tried to use this definition of perfect secrecy: pr(x)=pr(x|y), where $x\in M$ and $y\in C$ @cisnjxqu $\endgroup$
    – Vshi
    Nov 30, 2020 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ Have you tried formalizing the statement you want to prove? $\endgroup$
    – ambiso
    Nov 30, 2020 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


I don't think the statement is true, and I will come to a counterexample later.


One possible formalization of the statement could look like this:

Let $\mathcal{M}$ be the message space, and $\mathcal{C}$ the ciphertext space.

We define two arbitrary distributions over $\mathcal{M}$: $M_a$ and $M_b$, where $\Pr_{m \in \mathcal{M}}[M_a = m] = p^\mathcal{M}_a(m)$ and $\Pr_{m \in \mathcal{M}}[M_b = m] = p^\mathcal{M}_b(m)$.

Additionally we need distributions over $\mathcal{C}$: $C_a$ and $C_b$ defined analogously.

An encryption scheme $\Pi = (\mathrm{Gen}, \mathrm{Enc}, \mathrm{Dec})$ is perfectly secret with respect to the distribution defined by $M_a$ if:

$\forall m\in\mathcal{M}, c\in\mathcal{C}. \Pr[M_a=m] = \Pr[M_a = m\ |\ C_a = c]$ and $\Pr[C_a = c] > 0$, to avoid conditioning on an event with zero probability.

We want to show that given $\Pi$ fulfills the above definition, then it also fulfills the same definition with $M_a$ replaced by $M_b$.

Attempt to Prove

I first attempted (but did not succeed) at proving the statement. My attempt looks like this:

First show that it suffices to show that the ciphertext distributions are equal (i.e. that $\Pr[C_a = c] = \Pr[C_b = c]$ holds).

Then show that the ciphertext distributions are equal.

However, I was not able to prove these statements.


I believe I have found a counterexample.

Lets first look at the definition of perfect secrecy:

Definition of Perfect Secrecy (from Introduction to Modern Cryptography by Katz and Lindell

There are two things I would like to point out:

  1. the definition requires independence of the message from the ciphertext for any plaintext distribution, so your statement deviates from this requirement.
  2. the equation only needs to hold for $\Pr[C = c] > 0$


Let $\mathcal{M} = \mathcal{C} = \{0,1,2,3\}$. Further, let our key-space be $\mathcal{K} = \{0,1\}$.

We define an encryption scheme that is perfectly secret for the messages $0$ and $1$, but not for $2$ and $3$:

\begin{equation*} \mathrm{Enc}_k(m) = \begin{cases} k \oplus m & \text{if $m \in \{0,1\}$}\\ m & \text{if $m \in \{2,3\}$}\\ \end{cases} \end{equation*}

Additionally, we define a message distribution as follows:

\begin{equation*} \Pr[\mathcal{M} = m] = \begin{cases} \frac{1}{2} & \text{for $m \in\{0,1\}$}\\ 0 & \text{for $m \in\{2,3\}$}\\ \end{cases} \end{equation*}

We now show, that (1) $\Pi$ is perfectly secret with respect to our message distribution. Then (2) we show that it is not perfectly secret for all message distributions.


We need to show that $\Pr[M = m] = \Pr[M = m\ |\ C = c]$.

We don't need to show this for $c \in \{2,3\}$ since for our message distribution, $\Pr[C = 2] = \Pr[C = 3] = 0$.

For $c \in \{0, 1\}: \Pr[M = m\ |\ C = c] = \frac{1}{2} = \Pr[M = m]$.

Therefore, the encryption scheme is perfectly secret for the given message distribution.


However, given a message distribution that assigns $2$ or $3$ a non-zero probability, the scheme is trivially not perfectly secret:

$\Pr[M = 2] \neq 0 = \Pr[M = 2\ |\ C = 3]$

Therefore the scheme is not perfectly secret for all message distributions, and thus the statement does not hold in general.


For completeness here is the decryption algorithm:

\begin{equation*} \mathrm{Dec}_k(c) = \begin{cases} c \oplus k & \text{if $c \in \{0,1\}$}\\ c & \text{if $c \in \{2,3\}$} \end{cases} \end{equation*}

and the key generation:

\begin{equation*} \mathrm{Gen}() = k \stackrel{sample}{\leftarrow}\{0,1\} \end{equation*}

  • $\begingroup$ what is the value of $k \oplus m$? Is it 0 or 1? Then your keyspace is already short than the message space, if not it may already be insecure. $\endgroup$
    – kelalaka
    Dec 1, 2020 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ Lemma 1: An encryption scheme (Gen, Enc, Dec) over a message space M is perfectly secret if and only if for every probability distribution over M, every ${m_0, m_1 \in M}$, and every ciphertext ${c \in C}$ $${Pr[C=c|M=m_0]}=Pr[C=c|M=m_1]$$ By Lemma 1:for any ${m_i,m_j \in M}$ $${Pr[K=k_i]=Pr[Enc_k(m_i)=c]=Pr[Enc_k(m_j)=c]=Pr[K=k_j]}$$ Since ${k_i \neq k_j for i \neq j}$, this mean each key is chosen with probability 1/|K| $\endgroup$
    – SSA
    Dec 2, 2020 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ @kelalaka yes $k \oplus m \in \{0,1\}$. Yes this encryption scheme is not perfectly secret with respect to all message distributions, but it is perfectly secret with regards to message distributions that only assign $0$ and $1$ a non-zero probability. $\endgroup$
    – ambiso
    Dec 2, 2020 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ @SSA Yes, the key is chosen uniformly random $\endgroup$
    – ambiso
    Dec 2, 2020 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ But original statement is " Suppose a cryptosystem achieves perfect secrecy for a particular plaintext probability distribution p0. Prove that perfect secrecy is maintained for any plaintext probability distribution." and it is true. because if perfect secrecy is proved for any message ${m_i}$ then probability of any ciphertext ${c \in C} $ equally possible for any message ${m \in M}$ because of random probability of a chosen key i.e. ${\frac{1}{|K|}}$. why do you think it is not correct? $\endgroup$
    – SSA
    Dec 2, 2020 at 11:06

Proof: $${Pr[Y=y]= \sum_{K \in Z_{26}} Pr[K=k] Pr[x=d_k(y)] }$$ $$ =\frac{1}{26}{\sum_{K \in Z_{26}} Pr[x=y-K]}$$ $$={\frac{1}{26}}$$ Hence, $${Pr [y|x] = Pr[K=(y-x) mod 26] }$$ $$={\frac{1}{26}}$$

Above equation shows that For every pair of yand x there is exactly one key, and probability of that key is 1/26. i.e., $${Pr (x|y) = Pr(x) }$$

  • $\begingroup$ You have assumed here $|M|=|K|$, what if $|K|\ge |M|$? \\ How can we say that if $|K|\ge |M|$ we will still have $Pr[K=k]=\frac{1}{K}$ $\endgroup$
    – Vshi
    Dec 21, 2020 at 12:03

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