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One can note that, given an elliptic curve mod $p$, that the set of points together with the usual addition law gives a finite Abelian group.

Now by the fundamental theorem of finite abelian groups, $$E\cong\mathbb{Z}/p_1^{a_1}\mathbb{Z}\otimes\dots\otimes\mathbb{Z}/p_k^{a_k}\mathbb{Z},$$ where $$E=\{(x,y)\in\mathbb{Z}/p\mathbb{Z} \times \mathbb{Z}/p\mathbb{Z}:y^2\equiv x^3+ax+b\}\cup\{O\}$$ and $n=p_1^{a_1}\dots p_k^{a_k}$.

Are there any cryptographic attacks on elliptic curve cryptography that utilize this decomposition? $n$ can be obtained easily enough by Schoof's algorithm.

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  • $\begingroup$ I had tried doing some Google searching but was having trouble finding anything. I remember learning about Pohlig-Hellman but we only discussed its implementation for $\mathbb{Z}/p\mathbb{Z}$ particularly. Is there a good way of determining $a$ and $b$ to achieve these desired properties of $n$? $\endgroup$ Apr 21 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, I went to go forward and write a little for you. $\endgroup$
    – kelalaka
    Apr 21 at 23:00
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Let $E$ be an elliptic curve over a finite field $K$ with an order $n$ such that $n =p_1^{a_1}\dots p_k^{a_k}$. The order is the number of rational points of the curve.

There are various point for a curve to be secure;

  • Discrete logarithm

    The basic security of ECC is the Dlog that is given a base point $G$ and another point $P$ with $P= [x]G$

    There are many Dlog algorithms, however, two of them are important here

    1. Pollards' Rho and this defines the bound; that is a curve with $n$ elements the cost of Pollard's $\rho$ is $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{n})$, therefore a curve with $n$ point cannot be secure than this.

    2. Pohlig-Hellman is applicable if $n$ is a smooth integer. It has $$\mathcal O\left(\sum_i {a_i(\log n+\sqrt {p_i})}\right)$$ time complexity where $\prod_i p_i^{a_i}$ is the prime factorization of group order $n$.

    To mitigate this attack this attack a prime order must be selected than is has same worst-case complexity as $\mathcal{O}(\sqrt{n}\log n)$-time. Or the order must have at least one large factor where DLog is hard.

    If you are looking an example then this curve $E(F_p) : y^2 = x^3 + 7x + 1$ with $p = 9254331510119 $ is a concrete case for Pohlig-Hellman.

  • Co-factor

    Co-factor $h$ is defined as $h = \#E(K)/n$. We want the cofactor small or equal to 1. If not, then;

    The attacker may choose one of the small sub-group to use the Lim–Lee active small-subgroup attacks. This attack is very effective if the $n$ has many small factors. Then, the attackers can use CRT to combine the results.

    For each query the attacker can reveal by $[a]P$ is at most $\lceil log_2 h\rceil$ bits. To mitigate this a curve with co-factor is small or 1 or a strict point validation is required.


The above are the obvious security issues when the order is of the form $\prod_i p_i^{a_i}$ for some distinct primes $p_i$ and $a_i \in \mathbb{Z}^+$. The list, however, is not complete;

  • The twist security

    From the factorization, one can say that our curve's one of the primes is large enough to be secure against DLog. If the attacker sends a point on the twist with low order, then can use Lim-Lee's attack to combine the results. To mitigate, a curve with a large prime factor of the twisted order is required as in Curve25519 and point validation!

  • And, more see in safecurves

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