International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Hailun Yan


Meet-in-the-Middle Preimage Attacks on Sponge-based Hashing
The Meet-in-the-Middle (MitM) attack has been widely applied to preimage attacks on Merkle-Damgård (MD) hashing. In this paper, we introduce a generic framework of the MitM attack on sponge-based hashing. We find certain bit conditions can significantly reduce the diffusion of the unknown bits and lead to longer MITM characteristics. To find good or optimal configurations of MitM attacks, e.g., the bit conditions, the neutral sets, and the matching points, we introduce the bit-level MILP-based automatic tools on Keccak, Ascon and Xoodyak. To reduce the scale of bit-level models and make them solvable in reasonable time, a series of properties of the targeted hashing are considered in the modelling, such as the linear structure and CP-kernel for Keccak, the Boolean expression of Sbox for Ascon. Finally, we give an improved 4-round preimage attack on Keccak-512/SHA3, and break a nearly 10 years’ cryptanalysis record. We also give the first preimage attacks on 3-/4-round Ascon-XOF and 3-round Xoodyak-XOF.
New Attacks on LowMC instances with a Single Plaintext/Ciphertext pair 📺
Cryptanalysis of the LowMC block cipher when the attacker has access to a single known plaintext/ciphertext pair is a mathematically challenging problem. This is because the attacker is unable to employ most of the standard techniques in symmetric cryptography like linear and differential cryptanalysis. This scenario is particularly relevant while arguing the security of the Picnic digital signature scheme in which the plaintext/ciphertext pair generated by the LowMC block cipher serves as the public (verification) key and the corresponding LowMC encryption key also serves as the secret (signing) key of the signature scheme. In the paper by Banik et al. (IACR ToSC 2020:4), the authors used a linearization technique of the LowMC S-box to mount attacks on some instances of the block cipher. In this paper, we first make a more precise complexity analysis of the linearization attack. Then, we show how to perform a 2-stage MITM attack on LowMC. The first stage reduces the key candidates corresponding to a fraction of key bits of the master key. The second MITM stage between this reduced candidate set and the remaining fraction of key bits successfully recovers the master key. We show that the combined computational complexity of both these stages is significantly lower than those reported in the ToSC paper by Banik et al.