International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Paper: CPA and CCA-Secure Encryption Systems that are not 2-Circular Secure

Matthew Green
Susan Hohenberger
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Abstract: Traditional definitions of encryption guarantee security for plaintexts which can be derived by the adversary. In some settings, such as anonymous credential or disk encryption systems, one may need to reason about the security of messages potentially unknown to the adversary, such as secret keys encrypted in a self-loop or a cycle. A public-key cryptosystem is n-circular secure if it remains secure when the ciphertexts E(pk_1, sk_2), E(pk_2, sk_3), ... , E(pk_{n-1}, sk_n), E(pk_n, sk_1) are revealed, for independent key pairs. A natural question to ask is what does it take to realize circular security in the standard model? Are all CPA-secure (or CCA-secure) cryptosystems also n-circular secure for n >1? One way to resolve this question is to produce a CPA-secure (or CCA-secure) cryptosystem which is demonstrably insecure for key cycles larger than self-loops. Recently and independently, Acar, Belenkiy, Bellare and Cash provided a CPA-secure cryptosystem, under the SXDH assumption, that is not 2-circular secure. In this paper, we present a different CPA-secure counterexample (under SXDH) as well as the first CCA-secure counterexample (under SXDH and the existence of certain NIZK proof systems) for n >1. Moreover, our 2-circular attacks recover the secret keys of both parties and thus exhibit a catastrophic failure of the system whereas the attack in Acar et al. provides a test whereby the adversary can distinguish whether it is given a 2-cycle or two random ciphertexts. These negative results are an important step in answering deep questions about which attacks are prevented by commonly-used definitions and systems of encryption.
  title={CPA and CCA-Secure Encryption Systems that are not 2-Circular Secure},
  booktitle={IACR Eprint archive},
  keywords={public-key cryptography / circular encryption, key dependent encryption, definitions},
  note={ 14686 received 16 Mar 2010, last revised 18 Mar 2010},
  author={Matthew Green and Susan Hohenberger},