Recently, it occurred to me that there wasn’t a good, focused resource that covers commitments in the context of asymmetric cryptography. I had covered confused deputy attacks in my very short (don’t look at the scroll bar) blog post on database cryptography., and that’s definitely relevant. I had also touched on the subject of commitment […]
Cryptography, as well as cryptanalysis and various topics related to the two.
An introduction to database cryptography.
Ever since the famous “Open Sesame” line from One Thousand and One Nights, humanity was doomed to suffer from the scourge of passwords. Even in a world where we use hardware tokens with asymmetric cryptography to obviate the need for passwords in modern authentication protocols, we’ll still need to include “something you know” for legal […]
When it comes to AES-GCM, I am not a fan. Most of my gripes fall into one of two categories: However, one of my gripes technically belongs in both categories: The small nonce size, which is caused by AES’s block size, limits the amount of data you can safely encrypt with a single symmetric key. […]
As Twitter’s new management continues to nosedive the platform directly into the ground, many people are migrating to what seem like drop-in alternatives; i.e. Cohost and Mastodon. Some are even considering new platforms that none of us have heard of before (one is called “Hive”). Needless to say, these are somewhat chaotic times. One topic […]
Cryptographic agility is a vaguely defined property, but is commonly understood to mean, “Able to quickly swap between cryptographic primitives in response to new attacks.” Wikipedia defines cryptographic agility as: Cryptographic agility is a practice paradigm in designing information security protocols and standards in a way so that they can support multiple cryptographic primitives and […]
feat. Vikram Sharma of QuintessenceLabs
A cartoon wild canid on the Internet provides general guidance on elliptic curve cryptography parameter choices.
If you really must support RSA in 2022, here’s some things to keep in mind.
Who knew Hybrid Cryptography (which combines Post-Quantum Cryptography with Pre-Quantum Cryptography) would be controversial?
HKDF has poorly-understood subtleties. Let’s explore them in detail.
Threema boldly claims to be more secure than Signal. Does this hold up to scrutiny?
Crackpot cryptography, overconfidence, and attempts to defraud governments and private-sector startups.
Programmers don’t understand hash functions, and I can demonstrate this to most of the people that will read this with a single observation: When you saw the words “hash function” in the title, you might have assumed this was going to be a blog post about password storage. (Passwords are the most common knee-jerk reaction […]
Just to assuage any panic, let me state this up front. If you’re reading this blog post wondering if your Lobste.rs account is at risk, good news: I didn’t publish it until after the vulnerability was mitigated, so you’re safe. You don’t need to change your passwords or anything. This write-up is purely for education […]
Safer Illinois, Isn’t
Wherein some furry casually saves a University tens of thousands of dollars on a NIST SP 800-171 audit they were doomed to fail anyway.
An assortment of topics that don’t quite deserve their own dedicated blog post.
Canonicalization Attacks occur when a protocol that feeds data into a hash function used in a Message Authentication Code (MAC) or Digital Signature calculation fails to ensure some property that’s expected of the overall protocol. The textbook example of a canonicalization attack is the length-extension attack against hash functions such as MD5–which famously broke the […]
Earlier today, I made a Twitter shitpost that confused a lot of folks from the UK. Now, anyone can be forgiven for not knowing what AES-GCM-SIV is, or for being confused by the grammar of the meme. But the source of confusion was the word “nonce”. Let’s talk about what the word “nonce” means in […]
Previously on Dead Ends in Cryptanalysis, we talked about length-extension attacks and precisely why modern hash functions like SHA-3 and BLAKE2 aren’t susceptible. The art and science of side-channel cryptanalysis is one of the subjects I’m deeply fascinated by, and it’s something you’ll hear me yap about a lot on this blog in the future. […]
How and why XSalsa20/XChaCha were designed, and why they’re secure.
Cryptographers and cryptography engineers love to talk about the latest attacks and how to mitigate them. LadderLeak breaks ECDSA with less than 1 bit of nonce leakage? Raccoon attack brings the Hidden Number attack to finite field Diffie-Hellman in TLS? And while this sort of research is important and fun, most software developers have much […]
Boycott Zed Shaw’s writing. (With bonus zero-days in his work.)
Tales from the Crypt[ography].
RSA is for encrypting symmetric keys, not entire messages. Pass it on.
Block Cipher Structures: Ranked
An opinionated curation of different classes of block ciphers, ranked by an opinionated furry.
As we look upon the sunset of a remarkably tiresome year, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about cryptographic wear-out. What is cryptographic wear-out? It’s the threshold when you’ve used the same key to encrypt so much data that you should probably switch to a new key before you encrypt any more. Otherwise, […]
Imagine you’re a software developer, and you need to authenticate users based on a username and password. If you’re well-read on the industry standard best practices, you’ll probably elect to use something like bcrypt, scrypt, Argon2id, or PBKDF2. (If you thought to use something else, you’re almost certainly doing it wrong.) Let’s say, due to […]
Governments are back on their anti-encryption bullshit again. Between the U.S. Senate’s “EARN IT” Act, the E.U.’s slew of anti-encryption proposals, and Australia’s new anti-encryption law, it’s become clear that the authoritarians in office view online privacy as a threat to their existence. Normally, when the governments increase their anti-privacy sabre-rattling, technologists start talking more […]
A Brief Introduction to Deniability
Earlier this week, security researcher Ryan Castellucci published a blog post with a somewhat provocative title: DKIM: Show Your Privates. After reading the ensuing discussions on Hacker News and Reddit about their DKIM post, it seems clear that the importance of deniability in online communications seems to have been broadly overlooked. Security Goals, Summarized When […]
Zoom recently announced that they were going to make end-to-end encryption available to all of their users–not just customers. This is a good move, especially for people living in countries with inept leadership that failed to address the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore need to conduct their work and schooling remotely through software like Zoom. I […]
Solving For “Why?”
Why blog about cryptography as a furry?
This is the first entry in a (potentially infinite) series of dead end roads in the field of cryptanalysis. Cryptography engineering is one of many specialties within the wider field of security engineering. Security engineering is a discipline that chiefly concerns itself with studying how systems fail in order to build better systems–ones that are […]
Since the IETF’s CFRG decided to recommend OPAQUE as a next-generation Password Authenticated Key Exchange, there has been a lot of buzz in the cryptography community about committing authenticated encryption (known to the more academically inclined as Random Key Robustness), because OPAQUE requires an RKR-secure AE scheme. Random Key Robustness is a property that some […]
If you’re ever tasked with implementing a cryptography feature–whether a high-level protocol or a low-level primitive–you will have to take special care to ensure you’re not leaking secret information through side-channels. The descriptions of algorithms you learn in a classroom or textbook are not sufficient for real-world use. (Yes, that means your toy RSA implementation […]
Earlier this week, NIST announced Round 3 of the Post-Quantum Cryptography project and published their rationale for selecting from the Round 2 candidates. NIST did something clever this time, and Round 3 was separated into two groups: Finalists and Alternative Candidates. Finalists are algorithms that NIST (and the majority of the cryptographers involved in NIST’s […]
There seems to be a lot of interest among software developers in the various cryptographic building blocks (block ciphers, hash functions, etc.), and more specifically how they stack up against each other. Today, we’re going to look at how some symmetric encryption methods stack up against each other. If you’re just looking for a short […]
If you see the letters GNU in a systems design, and that system intersects with cryptography, I can almost guarantee that it will be badly designed to an alarming degree. This is as true of GnuPG (and PGP in general) as it is of designs like the proposed GNU Name System (IETF draft) and cryptographic […]
A question I get asked frequently is, “How did you learn cryptography?” I could certainly tell everyone my history as a self-taught programmer who discovered cryptography when, after my website for my indie game projects kept getting hacked, I was introduced to cryptographic hash functions… but I suspect the question folks want answered is, “How […]
A paper was published on the IACR’s ePrint archive yesterday, titled LadderLeak: Breaking ECDSA With Less Than One Bit of Nonce Leakage. The ensuing discussion on /r/crypto led to several interesting questions that I thought would be worth capturing and answering in detail. What’s Significant About the LadderLeak Paper? This is best summarized by Table […]
Why AES-GCM Sucks
If you’re reading this wondering if you should stop using AES-GCM in some standard protocol (TLS 1.3), the short answer is “No, you’re fine”. I specialize in secure implementations of cryptography, and my years of experience in this field have led me to dislike AES-GCM. This post is about why I dislike AES-GCM’s design, not […]
Putting the “Fun” in “Hash Function”
There are several different methods for securely hashing a password server-side for storage and future authentication. The most common one (a.k.a. the one that FIPS allows you to use, if compliance matters for you) is called PBKDF2. It stands for Password-Based Key Derivation Function #2. Why #2? It’s got nothing to do with pencils. There […]
In 2017, cryptography researchers from Kudelski Security demonstrated practical fault attacks against EdDSA (specifically Ed25519; RFC 8032). Their techniques are also applicable to Deterministic ECDSA (RFC 6979), and potentially work against any deterministic signature scheme (n.b. the Fiat-Shamir or Schnorr distinction isn’t meaningful in this context). Although that might seem alarming, fault attacks aren’t especially […]
Let’s talk about digital signature algorithms. Digital signature algorithms are one of the coolest ideas to come out of asymmetric (a.k.a. public-key) cryptography, but they’re so simple and straightforward that most cryptography nerds don’t spend a lot of time thinking about them. Even though you are more likely to run into a digital signature as […]
Suppose you need to encrypt data between two peer-to-peer devices over an untrusted medium (i.e. the Internet), and you have an authenticated low-bandwidth channel that can be used to send and authenticate a few bytes (less than 100), but that channel isn’t itself encrypted (otherwise it’d be a chicken-and-egg problem). Aside: If it helps your […]
Authenticated Key Exchanges
Authenticated Key Exchanges are an interesting and important building block in any protocol that aims to allow people to communicate privately over an untrusted medium (i.e. the Internet). What’s an AKE? At their core, Authenticated Key Exchanges (AKEs for short) combine two different classes of protocol. An authentication mechanism, such as a MAC or a […]