International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Zheng Li


Automatic Search of Meet-in-the-Middle Preimage Attacks on AES-like Hashing 📺
The Meet-in-the-Middle (MITM) preimage attack is highly effective in breaking the preimage resistance of many hash functions, including but not limited to the full MD5, HAVAL, and Tiger, and reduced SHA-0/1/2. It was also shown to be a threat to hash functions built on block ciphers like AES by Sasaki in 2011. Recently, such attacks on AES hashing modes evolved from merely using the freedom of choosing the internal state to also exploiting the freedom of choosing the message state. However, detecting such attacks especially those evolved variants is difficult. In previous works, the search space of the configurations of such attacks is limited, such that manual analysis is practical, which results in sub-optimal solutions. In this paper, we remove artificial limitations in previous works, formulate the essential ideas of the construction of the attack in well-defined ways, and translate the problem of searching for the best attacks into optimization problems under constraints in Mixed-Integer-Linear-Programming (MILP) models. The MILP models capture a large solution space of valid attacks; and the objectives of the MILP models are attack configurations with the minimized computational complexity. With such MILP models and using the off-the-shelf solver, it is efficient to search for the best attacks exhaustively. As a result, we obtain the first attacks against the full (5-round) and an extended (5.5-round) version of Haraka-512 v2, and 8-round AES-128 hashing modes, as well as improved attacks covering more rounds of Haraka-256 v2 and other members of AES and Rijndael hashing modes.
Towards Key-recovery-attack Friendly Distinguishers: Application to GIFT-128 📺
When analyzing a block cipher, the first step is to search for some valid distinguishers, for example, the differential trails in the differential cryptanalysis and the linear trails in the linear cryptanalysis. A distinguisher is advantageous if it can be utilized to attack more rounds and the amount of the involved key bits during the key-recovery process is small, as this leads to a long attack with a low complexity. In this article, we propose a two-step strategy to search for such advantageous distinguishers. This strategy is inspired by the intuition that if a differential is advantageous only when some properties are satisfied, then we can predefine some constraints describing these properties and search for the differentials in the small set.As applications, our strategy is used to analyze GIFT-128, which was proposed in CHES 2017. Based on some 20-round differentials, we give the first 27-round differential attack on GIFT-128, which covers one more round than the best previous result. Also, based on two 17-round linear trails, we give the first linear hull attack on GIFT-128, which covers 22 rounds. In addition, we also give some results on two GIFT-128 based AEADs GIFT-COFB and SUNDAE-GIFT.
Meet-in-the-Middle Attacks Revisited: Key-recovery, Collision, and Preimage Attacks 📺
At EUROCRYPT 2021, Bao et al. proposed an automatic method for systematically exploring the configuration space of meet-in-the-middle (MITM) preimage attacks. We further extend it into a constraint-based framework for finding exploitable MITM characteristics in the context of key-recovery and collision attacks by taking the subtle peculiarities of both scenarios into account. Moreover, to perform attacks based on MITM characteristics with nonlinear constrained neutral words, which have not been seen before, we present a procedure for deriving the solution spaces of neutral words without solving the corresponding nonlinear equations or increasing the overall time complexities of the attack. We apply our method to concrete symmetric-key primitives, including SKINNY, ForkSkinny, Romulus-H, Saturnin, Grostl, Whirlpool, and hashing modes with AES-256. As a result, we identify the first 23-round key-recovery attack on \skinny-$n$-$3n$ and the first 24-round key-recovery attack on ForkSkinny-$n$-$3n$ in the single-key model. Moreover, improved (pseudo) preimage or collision attacks on round-reduced Whirlpool, Grostl, and hashing modes with AES-256 are obtained. In particular, imploying the new representation of the \AES key schedule due to Leurent and Pernot (EUROCRYPT 2021), we identify the first preimage attack on 10-round AES-256 hashing.
New Conditional Cube Attack on Keccak Keyed Modes 📺
The conditional cube attack on round-reduced Keccak keyed modes was proposed by Huang et al. at EUROCRYPT 2017. In their attack, a conditional cube variable was introduced, whose diffusion was significantly reduced by certain key bit conditions. The attack requires a set of cube variables which are not multiplied in the first round while the conditional cube variable is not multiplied with other cube variables (called ordinary cube variables) in the first two rounds. This has an impact on the degree of the output of Keccak and hence gives a distinguisher. Later, the MILP method was applied to find ordinary cube variables. However, for some Keccak based versions with few degrees of freedom, one could not find enough ordinary cube variables, which weakens or even invalidates the conditional cube attack.In this paper, a new conditional cube attack on Keccak is proposed. We remove the limitation that no cube variables multiply with each other in the first round. As a result, some quadratic terms may appear in the first round. We make use of some new bit conditions to prevent the quadratic terms from multiplying with other cube variables in the second round, so that there will be no cubic terms in the first two rounds. Furthermore, we introduce the kernel quadratic term and construct a 6-2-2 pattern to reduce the diffusion of quadratic terms significantly, where the Θ operation even in the second round becomes an identity transformation (CP-kernel property) for the kernel quadratic term. Previous conditional cube attacks on Keccak only explored the CP-kernel property of Θ operation in the first round. Therefore, more degrees of freedom are available for ordinary cube variables and fewer bit conditions are used to remove the cubic terms in the second round, which plays a key role in the conditional cube attack on versions with very few degrees of freedom. We also use the MILP method in the search of cube variables and give key-recovery attacks on round-reduced Keccak keyed modes.As a result, we reduce the time complexity of key-recovery attacks on 7-round Keccak-MAC-512 and 7-round Ketje Sr v2 from 2111, 299 to 272, 277, respectively. Additionally, we have reduced the time complexity of attacks on 9-round KMAC256 and 7-round Ketje Sr v1. Besides, practical attacks on 6-round Ketje Sr v1 and v2 are also given in this paper for the first time.
Conditional Cube Attack on Round-Reduced ASCON
This paper evaluates the secure level of authenticated encryption Ascon against cube-like method. Ascon submitted by Dobraunig et al. is one of 16 survivors of the 3rd round CAESAR competition. The cube-like method is first used by Dinur et al. to analyze Keccak keyed modes. At CT-RSA 2015, Dobraunig et al. applied this method to 5/6-round reduced Ascon, whose structure is similar to Keccak keyed modes. However, for Ascon the non-linear layer is more complex and state is much smaller, which make it hard for the attackers to select enough cube variables that do not multiply with each other after the first round. This seems to be the reason why the best previous key-recovery attack is on 6-round Ascon, while for Keccak keyed modes (Keccak-MAC and Keyak) the attacked round is no less than 7-round. In this paper, we generalize the conditional cube attack proposed by Huang et al., and find new cubes depending on some key bit conditions for 5/6-round reduced Ascon, and translate the previous theoretic 6-round attack with 266 time complexity to a practical one with 240 time complexity. Moreover, we propose the first 7-round key-recovery attack on Ascon. By introducing the cube-like key-subset technique, we divide the full key space into many subsets according to different key conditions. For each key subset, we launch the cube tester to determine if the key falls into it. Finally, we recover the full key space by testing all the key subsets. The total time complexity is about 2103.9. In addition, for a weak-key subset, whose size is 2117, the attack is more efficient and costs only 277 time complexity. Those attacks do not threaten the full round (12 rounds) Ascon.
Cube-like Attack on Round-Reduced Initialization of Ketje Sr
This paper studies the Keccak-based authenticated encryption (AE) scheme Ketje Sr against cube-like attacks. Ketje is one of the remaining 16 candidates of third round CAESAR competition, whose primary recommendation is Ketje Sr. Although the cube-like method has been successfully applied to Ketje’s sister ciphers, including Keccak-MAC and Keyak – another Keccak-based AE scheme, similar attacks are missing for Ketje. For Ketje Sr, the state (400-bit) is much smaller than Keccak-MAC and Keyak (1600-bit), thus the 128-bit key and cubes with the same dimension would occupy more lanes in Ketje Sr. Hence, the number of key bits independent of the cube sum is very small, which makes the divide-and-conquer method (it has been applied to 7-round attack on Keccak-MAC by Dinur et al.) can not be translated to Ketje Sr trivially. This property seems to be the barrier for the translation of the previous cube-like attacks to Ketje Sr. In this paper, we evaluate Ketje Sr against the divide-and-conquer method. Firstly, by applying the linear structure technique, we find some 32/64-dimension cubes of Ketje Sr that do not multiply with each other as well as some bits of the key in the first round. In addition, we introduce the new dynamic variable instead of the auxiliary variable (it was used in Dinur et al.’s divide-and-conquer attack to reduce the diffusion of the key) to reduce the diffusion of the key as well as the cube variables. Finally, we successfully launch a 6/7-round1 key recovery attack on Ketje Sr v1 and v2 (v2 is presented for the 3rd round CAESAR competition.). In 7-round attack, the complexity of online phase for Ketje Sr v1 is 2113, while for Ketje Sr v2, it is 297 (the preprocessing complexity is the same). We claim 7-round reduced Ketje Sr v2 is weaker than v1 against our attacks. In addition, some results on other Ketje instances and Ketje Sr with smaller nonce are given. Those are the first results on Ketje and bridge the gaps of cryptanalysis between its sister ciphers – Keyak and the Keccak keyed modes.