International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Douglas Stebila


Post-quantum Asynchronous Deniable Key Exchange and the Signal Handshake 📺
The key exchange protocol that establishes initial shared secrets in the handshake of the Signal end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol has several important characteristics: (1) it runs asynchronously (without both parties needing to be simultaneously online), (2) it provides implicit mutual authentication while retaining deniability (transcripts cannot be used to prove either party participated in the protocol), and (3) it retains security even if some keys are compromised (forward secrecy and beyond). All of these properties emerge from clever use of the highly flexible Diffie--Hellman protocol. While quantum-resistant key encapsulation mechanisms (KEMs) can replace Diffie--Hellman key exchange in some settings, there is no KEM-based replacement for the Signal handshake that achieves all three aforementioned properties, in part due to the inherent asymmetry of KEM operations. In this paper, we show how to construct asynchronous deniable key exchange by combining KEMs and designated verifier signature (DVS) schemes. There are several candidates for post-quantum DVS schemes, either direct constructions or via ring signatures. This yields a template for an efficient post-quantum realization of the Signal handshake with the same asynchronicity and security properties as the original Signal protocol.
CHES 2021 Artifact Review
Douglas Stebila
Algorithm Substitution Attacks: State Reset Detection and Asymmetric Modifications 📺
Philip Hodges Douglas Stebila
In this paper, we study algorithm substitution attacks (ASAs), where an algorithm in a cryptographic scheme is substituted for a subverted version. First, we formalize and study the use of state resets to detect ASAs, and show that many published stateful ASAs are detectable with simple practical methods relying on state resets. Second, we introduce two asymmetric ASAs on symmetric encryption, which are undetectable or unexploitable even by an adversary who knows the embedded subversion key. We also generalize this result, allowing for any symmetric ASA (on any cryptographic scheme) satisfying certain properties to be transformed into an asymmetric ASA. Our work demonstrates the broad application of the techniques first introduced by Bellare, Paterson, and Rogaway (Crypto 2014) and Bellare, Jaeger, and Kane (CCS 2015) and reinforces the need for precise definitions surrounding detectability of stateful ASAs.
A Cryptographic Analysis of the TLS 1.3 Handshake Protocol
We analyze the handshake protocol of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, version 1.3. We address both the full TLS 1.3 handshake (the one round-trip time mode, with signatures for authentication and (elliptic curve) Diffie–Hellman ephemeral ((EC)DHE) key exchange), and the abbreviated resumption/“PSK” mode which uses a pre-shared key for authentication (with optional (EC)DHE key exchange and zero round-trip time key establishment). Our analysis in the reductionist security framework uses a multi-stage key exchange security model, where each of the many session keys derived in a single TLS 1.3 handshake is tagged with various properties (such as unauthenticated versus unilaterally authenticated versus mutually authenticated, whether it is intended to provide forward security, how it is used in the protocol, and whether the key is protected against replay attacks). We show that these TLS 1.3 handshake protocol modes establish session keys with their desired security properties under standard cryptographic assumptions.
A Formal Security Analysis of the Signal Messaging Protocol
The Signal protocol is a cryptographic messaging protocol that provides end-to-end encryption for instant messaging in WhatsApp, Wire, and Facebook Messenger among many others, serving well over 1 billion active users. Signal includes several uncommon security properties (such as “future secrecy” or “post-compromise security”), enabled by a technique called ratcheting in which session keys are updated with every message sent. We conduct a formal security analysis of Signal’s initial extended triple Diffie–Hellman (X3DH) key agreement and Double Ratchet protocols as a multi-stage authenticated key exchange protocol. We extract from the implementation a formal description of the abstract protocol and define a security model which can capture the “ratcheting” key update structure as a multi-stage model where there can be a “tree” of stages, rather than just a sequence. We then prove the security of Signal’s key exchange core in our model, demonstrating several standard security properties. We have found no major flaws in the design and hope that our presentation and results can serve as a foundation for other analyses of this widely adopted protocol.

Program Committees

Crypto 2024
Asiacrypt 2018
Crypto 2017
Eurocrypt 2015