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185

These types of cryptographic primitive can be distinguished by the security goals they fulfill (in the simple protocol of "appending to a message"): Integrity: Can the recipient be confident that the message has not been accidentally modified? Authentication: Can the recipient be confident that the message originates from the sender? Non-repudiation: If the ...


127

@Ninefingers answers the question quite well; I just want to add a few details. Encrypt-then-MAC is the mode which is recommended by most researchers. Mostly, it makes it easier to prove the security of the encryption part (because thanks to the MAC, a decryption engine cannot be fed with invalid ciphertexts; this yields automatic protection against chosen ...


56

A Message Authentication Code (MAC) is a string of bits that is sent alongside a message. The MAC depends on the message itself and a secret key. No one should be able to compute a MAC without knowing the key. This allows two people who share a secret key to send messages to each without fear that someone else will tamper with the messages. (At least, if ...


50

Hugo Krawczyk has a paper titled The Order of Encryption and Authentication for Protecting Communications (or: How Secure Is SSL?). It identifies 3 types of combining authentication (MAC) with encryption: Encrypt then Authenticate (EtA) used in IPsec; Authenticate then Encrypt (AtE) used in SSL; Encrypt and Authenticate (E&A) used in SSH. It proves ...


41

Although there are already many answers here, I wanted to strongly advocate AGAINST MAC-then-encrypt. I fully agree with Thomas' first half of the answer, but completely disagree with the second half. The ciphertext is the ENTIRE ciphertext (including IV etc.), and this is what must be MACed. This is granted. However, if you MAC-then-encrypt in the ...


40

As Chris Smith notes in the comments, HMAC is a specific MAC algorithm (or, rather, a method for constructing a MAC algorithm out of a cryptographic hash function). Thus, HMAC can be used for any application that requires a MAC algorithm. One possible reason for requiring HMAC specifically, as opposed to just a generic MAC algorithm, is that the HMAC ...


38

The word "secure hash function" usually means (for a function $H$) Preimage resistance: Given a value $h$, it is hard to find a message $x$ so that $h = H(x)$. Second preimage resistance: Given a message $x$, it is hard to find a message $x' \neq x$ such that $H(x) = H(x')$. Collision resistance: It is hard to find two messages $x$, $x'$ such that $H(x) = H(...


38

Everything was changed between SHA-2 and SHA-3. In the specific case of the "length extension attack": the issue is that SHA-2 process data by splitting it into elementary blocks (64 or 128 bytes, depending on the SHA-2 variant), and produces for each block an output which has exactly the same size as the function output. Moreover, the output for a complete ...


32

I'll answer in order: Output size = input size That's correct, GCM uses CTR internally. It encrypts a counter value for each block, but it only uses as many bits as required from the last block. CTR turns the block cipher into a stream cipher. Note that this doesn't include the optional additional authenticated data (AAD), the optional IV nor the required ...


31

$\operatorname{Encrypt}(m\|H(m))$ is not an operating mode providing authentication; forgeries are possible in some very real scenarios. Depending on the encryption used, that can be assuming only known plaintext. Here is a simple example with $\operatorname{Encrypt}$ a stream cipher, including any block cipher in CTR or OFB mode. Mallory wants to forge an ...


26

You're missing the most important strength of HMAC: it comes with a proof of security (under some plausible assumptions). The outer key plays an important role in the proofs. The best place to learn more is to read the HMAC papers: Message authentication using hash functions: The HMAC construction, Mihir Bellare, Ran Canetti, Hugo Kawczyk, CryptoBytes ...


25

The reason $H(k\mathbin| m)$ (where $|$ is concatenation) is not the standard comes from the message extension attack. If I, as an attacker, have $H(k\mathbin|m)$ and $m$, I can compute $H(k\mathbin|m\mathbin|p\mathbin|m')$ (where $p$ is the padding that $H$ would have applied to $k\mathbin|m$ in computing the digest, and $m'$ is an arbitrary message) ...


24

The nCipher Advisory #13 cited in your securityfocus.com link contains the explanation of the vulnerability (in the section "Cryptographic details"). The CBC-MAC algorithm works similar to the CBC encryption algorithm, but only outputting the final block (or a part of this). Each block of the plain text is XOR-ed with the previous ciphertext and then ...


21

Length extension attack The reason why $H(k \mathbin\| m)$ is insecure with most older hashes is that they use the Merkle–Damgård construction which suffers from length extensions. When length extensions are available it's possible to compute $H(k \mathbin\| m \mathbin\| m^\prime)$ knowing only $H(k \mathbin\| m)$ but not $k$. This violates the security ...


21

Given that you use the SHA-3 hash (which is resistant against length extension attacks), would you still need to go through that procedure in order to produce a secure MAC? No, you don't need to do that, but you can. Needless to say we'd still use a key, which we prepend or append to the message, but is that sufficient for a MAC? Yes, you can prepend ...


20

HMAC was there first (the RFC 2104 is from 1997, while CMAC is from 2006), which is reason enough to explain its primacy. If you use HMAC, you will more easily find test vectors and implementations against which to test, and with which to interoperate, which again explains continued primacy. Being the de facto standard is a very strong position. On many ...


18

TL;DR No, the approach is not secure. Use a standard like CMAC instead. Or even better, check your AES accelerator module to see if it supports any AEAD modes of encryption like GCM, CCM, EAX. Long Version In order for a message authentication code (MAC) to be secure, an adversary with oracle access to the MAC (basically this means the adversary can send ...


18

No. A MAC guarantees unforgeability but not pseudorandomness. It is true that all MACs that I can think of right now are essential pseudorandom functions, but this does not mean that the MAC definition implies this. Indeed, it clearly does not. So, conceptually, you need a pseudorandom function. You can assume that HMAC is a pseudorandom function. It is ...


17

Moxie Marlinspike calls it in his article http://www.thoughtcrime.org/blog/the-cryptographic-doom-principle/ the doom principle: if you have to perform any cryptographic operation before verifying the MAC on a message you’ve received, it will somehow inevitably lead to doom. He also demonstrates two attacks which are possible because of trying to ...


17

In TLS (that's the standard name for SSL; TLS 1.2 is like "SSL version 3.3"), client and server ends up with a shared secret (the "master secret", a 48-byte sequence; when using RSA key exchange, the master secret is derived from the "premaster secret" which is the 48-byte string that the client encrypts with the server public key). That shared secret is ...


17

If this requires a single answer among 1/2/3/4 (rather than none), I would select 3, by the following reasoning: Digital Signature provides confidentiality while message authentication code can not We can summarily exclude this, since a Digital Signature simply does not provide confidentiality. Digital Signatures works faster than message ...


17

From the proposal of GCM (rewritten if statement): if $\operatorname{len}(IV) = 96$ then $Y_0 = IV || 0^{31}1$ else $Y_0 = \operatorname{GHASH}(H, \{\}, IV)$. So there are additional calculations for IV's other than 96 bits. This is why the original proposal has this recommendation: 96-bit IV values can be processed more efficiently, so that [ed: ...


17

Would it not be easier simply to send $E(m||s,k)$ where s is a salt shared across the system? Yes, that would be simpler; however, that would not (in general) be secure. The assumption you are making is that if someone modifies the ciphertext in any way, then the last few bits of the resulting plaintext must also be modified. This is often not the case: ...


16

This construction is not secure. It was proposed in this paper in a quick sentence for possibly fixing the insecure secret prefix construction from the other question: $\mathcal{H}(k||m)$. The author then proposes and analyzes an enveloping method: $\mathcal{H}(k_1||x||k_2)$. An attack involving finding an internal collision applies to $\mathcal{H}(k||\...


16

Alas, there is no simple satisfactory answer to this question. What I can offer is a very strong property that $m \mapsto H\bigl(k \mathbin\| H(k \mathbin\| m)\bigr)$ fails to achieve; a more pedestrian property which even HMAC may or may not achieve but is typically asked to achieve; a reason not to worry about it for any new systems; and some historical ...


15

UMAC is described in full details in RFC 4418. When the RFC talks about "secret selection", it really means "there is a secret key involved here". UMAC works with universal hashing, which can be viewed as a family of hash functions, and a key which selects which hash function we are talking of. The term "hash function" might be a bit confusing here, because ...


15

While the one time pad seems obvious, I am not sure about Carter-Wegman-Style message auth. What they are talking about is a Carter-Wegman authentication method that uses a stream of random bits as a part of the process (just like a one time pad uses a stream of random bits to encrypt). Normally, when we implement CW, we use some almost universal (au) ...


14

The construction you are proposing is called the "envelope" or "sandwich" MAC, it predates HMAC, and it is in fact secure—provided the key and message are appropriately padded. That is, $$ \text{SHA256}(k \parallel m \parallel 1 \parallel 0^{b - 1 - (|m| \bmod b)} \parallel k) $$ is secure, as long as $k$ is the underlying hash function's block length $b$ (...


13

I think Encrypt-then-MAC does not deliver Plaintext integrity, but only ciphertext integrity. If the MAC over the ciphertext is OK but then we use the wrong key to decrypt (for whatever reason), then the recipient receives a plaintext that the sender did not send and did not vouch for. If this can happen, this is a violation of plaintext integrity. So, ...


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