Misuse-Free Key-Recovery and Distinguishing Attacks on 7-Round Ascon 📺
Being one of the winning algorithms of the CAESAR competition and currently a second round candidate of the NIST lightweight cryptography standardization project, the authenticated encryption scheme Ascon (designed by Dobraunig, Eichlseder, Mendel, and Schläffer) has withstood extensive self and third-party cryptanalysis. The best known attack on Ascon could only penetrate up to 7 (out of 12) rounds due to Li et al. (ToSC Vol I, 2017). However, it violates the data limit of 264 blocks per key specified by the designers. Moreover, the best known distinguishers of Ascon in the AEAD context reach only 6 rounds. To fill these gaps, we revisit the security of 7-round Ascon in the nonce-respecting setting without violating the data limit as specified in the design. First, we introduce a new superpoly-recovery technique named as partial polynomial multiplication for which computations take place between the so-called degree-d homogeneous parts of the involved Boolean functions for a 2d-dimensional cube. We apply this method to 7-round Ascon and present several key recovery attacks. Our best attack can recover the 128-bit secret key with a time complexity of about 2123 7-round Ascon permutations and requires 264 data and 2101 bits memory. Also, based on division properties, we identify several 60 dimensional cubes whose superpolies are constant zero after 7 rounds. We further improve the cube distinguishers for 4, 5 and 6 rounds. Although our results are far from threatening the security of full 12-round Ascon, they provide new insights in the security analysis of Ascon.
Diving Deep into the Weak Keys of Round Reduced Ascon 📺
At ToSC 2021, Rohit et al. presented the first distinguishing and key recovery attacks on 7 rounds Ascon without violating the designer’s security claims of nonce-respecting setting and data limit of 264 blocks per key. So far, these are the best attacks on 7 rounds Ascon. However, the distinguishers require (impractical) 260 data while the data complexity of key recovery attacks exactly equals 264. Whether there are any practical distinguishers and key recovery attacks (with data less than 264) on 7 rounds Ascon is still an open problem.In this work, we give positive answers to these questions by providing a comprehensive security analysis of Ascon in the weak key setting. Our first major result is the 7-round cube distinguishers with complexities 246 and 233 which work for 282 and 263 keys, respectively. Notably, we show that such weak keys exist for any choice (out of 64) of 46 and 33 specifically chosen nonce variables. In addition, we improve the data complexities of existing distinguishers for 5, 6 and 7 rounds by a factor of 28, 216 and 227, respectively. Our second contribution is a new theoretical framework for weak keys of Ascon which is solely based on the algebraic degree. Based on our construction, we identify 2127.99, 2127.97 and 2116.34 weak keys (out of 2128) for 5, 6 and 7 rounds, respectively. Next, we present two key recovery attacks on 7 rounds with different attack complexities. The best attack can recover the secret key with 263 data, 269 bits of memory and 2115.2 time. Our attacks are far from threatening the security of full 12 rounds Ascon, but we expect that they provide new insights into Ascon’s security.
WAGE: An Authenticated Encryption with a Twist 📺
This paper presents WAGE, a new lightweight sponge-based authenticated cipher whose underlying permutation is based on a 37-stage Galois NLFSR over F27. At its core, the round function of the permutation consists of the well-analyzed Welch-Gong permutation (WGP), primitive feedback polynomial, a newly designed 7-bit SB sbox and partial word-wise XORs. The construction of the permutation is carried out such that the design of individual components is highly coupled with cryptanalysis and hardware efficiency. As such, we analyze the security of WAGE against differential, linear, algebraic and meet/miss-in-the-middle attacks. For 128-bit authenticated encryption security, WAGE achieves a throughput of 535 Mbps with hardware area of 2540 GE in ASIC ST Micro 90 nm standard cell library. Additionally, WAGE is designed with a twist where its underlying permutation can be efficiently turned into a pseudorandom bit generator based on the WG transformation (WG-PRBG) whose output bits have theoretically proved randomness properties.