Hello Guest! Welcome to ep6network, Get all components from Basic Networking.
Something you might want to know about us.
Don't be hesitated to contact us if you have something to say.


| | Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cryptography comes from the Greek words for ''secret writing.'' It has a long and colorful history going back thousands of years. In this section we will just sketch some of the highlights, as background information for what follows. For a complete history of cryptography, Kahn's (1995) book is recommended reading. For a comprehensive treatment of the current state-of-the-art in security and cryptographic algorithms, protocols, and applications, see (Kaufman et al., 2002). For a more mathematical approach, see (Stinson, 2002). For a less mathematical approach, see (Burnett and Paine, 2001).

Professionals make a distinction between ciphers and codes. A cipher is a character-for-character or bit-for-bit transformation, without regard to the linguistic structure of the message. In contrast, a code replaces one word with another word or symbol. Codes are not used any more, although they have a glorious history. The most successful code ever devised was used by the U.S. armed forces during World War II in the Pacific. They simply had Navajo Indians talking to each other using specific Navajo words for military terms, for example chay-dagahi-nail-tsaidi (literally: tortoise killer) for antitank weapon. The Navajo language is highly tonal, exceedingly complex, and has no written form. And not a single person in Japan knew anything about it.

In September 1945, the San Diego Union described the code by saying ''For three years, wherever the Marines landed, the Japanese got an earful of strange gurgling noises interspersed with other sounds resembling the call of a Tibetan monk and the sound of a hot water bottle being emptied.'' The Japanese never broke the code and many Navajo code talkers were awarded high military honors for extraordinary service and bravery. The fact that the U.S. broke the Japanese code but the Japanese never broke the Navajo code played a crucial role in the American victories in the Pacific.

Introduction to Cryptography

Historically, four groups of people have used and contributed to the art of cryptography: the military, the diplomatic corps, diarists, and lovers. Of these, the military has had the most important role and has shaped the field over the centuries. Within military organizations, the messages to be encrypted have traditionally been given to poorly-paid, low-level code clerks for encryption and transmission. The sheer volume of messages prevented this work from being done by a few elite specialists.

Until the advent of computers, one of the main constraints on cryptography had been the ability of the code clerk to perform the necessary transformations, often on a battlefield with little equipment. An additional constraint has been the difficulty in switching over quickly from one cryptographic method to another one, since this entails retraining a large number of people. However, the danger of a code clerk being captured by the enemy has made it essential to be able to change the cryptographic method instantly if need be.

The nonsecrecy of the algorithm cannot be emphasized enough. Trying to keep the algorithm secret, known in the trade as security by obscurity, never works. Also, by publicizing the algorithm, the cryptographer gets free consulting from a large number of academic cryptologists eager to break the system so they can publish papers demonstrating how smart they are. If many experts have tried to break the algorithm for 5 years after its publication and no one has succeeded, it is probably pretty solid.

Since the real secrecy is in the key, its length is a major design issue. Consider a simple combination lock. The general principle is that you enter digits in sequence. Everyone knows this, but the key is secret. A key length of two digits means that there are 100 possibilities. A key length of three digits means 1000 possibilities, and a key length of six digits means a million. The longer the key, the higher the work factor the cryptanalyst has to deal with. The work factor for breaking the system by exhaustive search of the key space is exponential in the key length. Secrecy comes from having a strong (but public) algorithm and a long key. To prevent your kid brother from reading your e-mail, 64-bit keys will do. For routine commercial use, at least 128 bits should be used. To keep major governments at bay, keys of at least 256 bits, preferably more, are needed.

From the cryptanalyst's point of view, the cryptanalysis problem has three principal variations. When he has a quantity of ciphertext and no plaintext, he is confronted with the ciphertext-only problem. The cryptograms that appear in the puzzle section of newspapers pose this kind of problem. When the cryptanalyst has some matched ciphertext and plaintext, the problem is called the known plaintext problem. Finally, when the cryptanalyst has the ability to encrypt pieces of plaintext of his own choosing, we have the chosen plaintext problem. Newspaper cryptograms could be broken trivially if the cryptanalyst were allowed to ask such questions as: What is the encryption of ABCDEFGHIJKL?

Novices in the cryptography business often assume that if a cipher can withstand a ciphertext-only attack, it is secure. This assumption is very naive. In many cases the cryptanalyst can make a good guess at parts of the plaintext. For example, the first thing many computers say when you call them up is login: . Equipped with some matched plaintext-ciphertext pairs, the cryptanalyst's job becomes much easier. To achieve security, the cryptographer should be conservative and make sure that the system is unbreakable even if his opponent can encrypt arbitrary amounts of chosen plaintext.

Encryption methods have historically been divided into two categories: substitution ciphers and transposition ciphers. We will now deal with each of these briefly as background information for modern cryptography.

Substitution Ciphers

In a substitution cipher each letter or group of letters is replaced by another letter or group of letters to disguise it. One of the oldest known ciphers is the Caesar cipher, attributed to Julius Caesar. In this method, a becomes D, b becomes E, c becomes F, ... , and z becomes C. For example, attack becomes DWWDFN. In examples, plaintext will be given in lower case letters, and ciphertext in upper case letters.

A slight generalization of the Caesar cipher allows the ciphertext alphabet to be shifted by k letters, instead of always 3. In this case k becomes a key to the general method of circularly shifted alphabets. The Caesar cipher may have fooled Pompey, but it has not fooled anyone since.

The next improvement is to have each of the symbols in the plaintext, say, the 26 letters for simplicity, map onto some other letter. For example,

plaintext: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

ciphertext: Q W E R T Y U I O P A S D F G H J K L Z X C V B N M

The general system of symbol-for-symbol substitution is called a monoalphabetic substitution, with the key being the 26-letter string corresponding to the full alphabet. For the key above, the plaintext attack would be transformed into the ciphertext QZZQEA.

At first glance this might appear to be a safe system because although the cryptanalyst knows the general system (letter-for-letter substitution), he does not know which of the 26! 4 x 1026 possible keys is in use. In contrast with the Caesar cipher, trying all of them is not a promising approach. Even at 1 nsec per solution, a computer would take 1010 years to try all the keys.

Nevertheless, given a surprisingly small amount of ciphertext, the cipher can be broken easily. The basic attack takes advantage of the statistical properties of natural languages. In English, for example, e is the most common letter, followed by t, o, a, n, i, etc. The most common two-letter combinations, or digrams, are th, in, er, re, and an. The most common three-letter combinations, or trigrams, are the, ing, and, and ion.

A cryptanalyst trying to break a monoalphabetic cipher would start out by counting the relative frequencies of all letters in the ciphertext. Then he might tentatively assign the most common one to e and the next most common one to t. He would then look at trigrams to find a common one of the form tXe, which strongly suggests that X is h. Similarly, if the pattern thYt occurs frequently, the Y probably stands for a. With this information, he can look for a frequently occurring trigram of the form aZW, which is most likely and. By making guesses at common letters, digrams, and trigrams and knowing about likely patterns of vowels and consonants, the cryptanalyst builds up a tentative plaintext, letter by letter.

Another approach is to guess a probable word or phrase. For example, consider the following ciphertext from an accounting firm (blocked into groups of five characters):


A likely word in a message from an accounting firm is financial. Using our knowledge that financial has a repeated letter (i), with four other letters between their occurrences, we look for repeated letters in the ciphertext at this spacing. We find 12 hits, at positions 6, 15, 27, 31, 42, 48, 56, 66, 70, 71, 76, and 82. However, only two of these, 31 and 42, have the next letter (corresponding to n in the plaintext) repeated in the proper place. Of these two, only 31 also has the a correctly positioned, so we know that financial begins at position 30. From this point on, deducing the key is easy by using the frequency statistics for English text.

Quantum Cryptography

Interestingly, there may be a solution to the problem of how to transmit the one-time pad over the network, and it comes from a very unlikely source: quantum mechanics. This area is still experimental, but initial tests are promising. If it can be perfected and be made efficient, virtually all cryptography will eventually be done using one-time pads since they are provably secure. Below we will briefly explain how this method, quantum cryptography, works. In particular, we will describe a protocol called BB84 after its authors and publication year (Bennet and Brassard, 1984).

A user, Alice, wants to establish a one-time pad with a second user, Bob. Alice and Bob are called principals, the main characters in our story. For example, Bob is a banker with whom Alice would like to do business. The names ''Alice'' and ''Bob'' have been used for the principals in virtually every paper and book on cryptography in the past decade. Cryptographers love tradition. If we were to use ''Andy'' and ''Barbara'' as the principals, no one would believe anything in this chapter. So be it.

If Alice and Bob could establish a one-time pad, they could use it to communicate securely. The question is: How can they establish it without previously exchanging DVDs? We can assume that Alice and Bob are at opposite ends of an optical fiber over which they can send and receive light pulses. However, an intrepid intruder, Trudy, can cut the fiber to splice in an active tap. Trudy can read all the bits in both directions. She can also send false messages in both directions. The situation might seem hopeless for Alice and Bob, but quantum cryptography can shed some new light on the subject.

Quantum cryptography is based on the fact that light comes in little packets called photons, which have some peculiar properties. Furthermore, light can be polarized by being passed through a polarizing filter, a fact well known to both sunglasses wearers and photographers. If a beam of light (i.e., a stream of photons) is passed through a polarizing filter, all the photons emerging from it will be polarized in the direction of the filter's axis (e.g., vertical). If the beam is now passed through a second polarizing filter, the intensity of the light emerging from the second filter is proportional to the square of the cosine of the angle between the axes. If the two axes are perpendicular, no photons get through. The absolute orientation of the two filters does not matter; only the angle between their axes counts.

To generate a one-time pad, Alice needs two sets of polarizing filters. Set one consists of a vertical filter and a horizontal filter. This choice is called a rectilinear basis. A basis (plural: bases) is just a coordinate system. The second set of filters is the same, except rotated 45 degrees, so one filter runs from the lower left to the upper right and the other filter runs from the upper left to the lower right. This choice is called a diagonal basis. Thus, Alice has two bases, which she can rapidly insert into her beam at will. In reality, Alice does not have four separate filters, but a crystal whose polarization can be switched electrically to any of the four allowed directions at great speed. Bob has the same equipment as Alice. The fact that Alice and Bob each have two bases available is essential to quantum cryptography.

For each basis, Alice now assigns one direction as 0 and the other as 1. In the example presented below, we assume she chooses vertical to be 0 and horizontal to be 1. Independently, she also chooses lower left to upper right as 0 and upper left to lower right as 1. She sends these choices to Bob as plaintext.

Now Alice picks a one-time pad, for example based on a random number generator (a complex subject all by itself). She transfers it bit by bit to Bob, choosing one of her two bases at random for each bit. To send a bit, her photon gun emits one photon polarized appropriately for the basis she is using for that bit. For example, she might choose bases of diagonal, rectilinear, rectilinear, diagonal, rectilinear, etc. To send her one-time pad of 1001110010100110 with these bases.

Two Fundamental Cryptographic Principles

Although we will study many different cryptographic systems in the pages ahead, two principles underlying all of them are important to understand.


The first principle is that all encrypted messages must contain some redundancy, that is, information not needed to understand the message. An example may make it clear why this is needed. Consider a mail-order company, The Couch Potato (TCP), with 60,000 products. Thinking they are being very efficient, TCP's programmers decide that ordering messages should consist of a 16-byte customer name followed by a 3-byte data field (1 byte for the quantity and 2 bytes for the product number). The last 3 bytes are to be encrypted using a very long key known only by the customer and TCP.

At first this might seem secure, and in a sense it is because passive intruders cannot decrypt the messages. Unfortunately, it also has a fatal flaw that renders it useless. Suppose that a recently-fired employee wants to punish TCP for firing her. Just before leaving, she takes the customer list with her. She works through the night writing a program to generate fictitious orders using real customer names. Since she does not have the list of keys, she just puts random numbers in the last 3 bytes, and sends hundreds of orders off to TCP.

When these messages arrive, TCP's computer uses the customer's name to locate the key and decrypt the message. Unfortunately for TCP, almost every 3-byte message is valid, so the computer begins printing out shipping instructions. While it might seem odd for a customer to order 837 sets of children's swings or 540 sandboxes, for all the computer knows, the customer might be planning to open a chain of franchised playgrounds. In this way an active intruder (the ex-employee) can cause a massive amount of trouble, even though she cannot understand the messages her computer is generating.

This problem can be solved by the addition of redundancy to all messages. For example, if order messages are extended to 12 bytes, the first 9 of which must be zeros, then this attack no longer works because the ex-employee can no longer generate a large stream of valid messages. The moral of the story is that all messages must contain considerable redundancy so that active intruders cannot send random junk and have it be interpreted as a valid message.

However, adding redundancy also makes it easier for cryptanalysts to break messages. Suppose that the mail order business is highly competitive, and The Couch Potato's main competitor, The Sofa Tuber, would dearly love to know how many sandboxes TCP is selling. Consequently, they have tapped TCP's telephone line. In the original scheme with 3-byte messages, cryptanalysis was nearly impossible, because after guessing a key, the cryptanalyst had no way of telling whether the guess was right. After all, almost every message is technically legal. With the new 12-byte scheme, it is easy for the cryptanalyst to tell a valid message from an invalid one. Thus, we have

Cryptographic principle 1: Messages must contain some redundancy

In other words, upon decrypting a message, the recipient must be able to tell whether it is valid by simply inspecting it and perhaps performing a simple computation. This redundancy is needed to prevent active intruders from sending garbage and tricking the receiver into decrypting the garbage and acting on the ''plaintext.'' However, this same redundancy makes it much easier for passive intruders to break the system, so there is some tension here. Furthermore, the redundancy should never be in the form of n zeros at the start or end of a message, since running such messages through some cryptographic algorithms gives more predictable results, making the cryptanalysts' job easier. A CRC polynomial is much better than a run of 0s since the receiver can easily verify it, but it generates more work for the cryptanalyst. Even better is to use a cryptographic hash, a concept we will explore later.

Getting back to quantum cryptography for a moment, we can also see how redundancy plays a role there. Due to Trudy's interception of the photons, some bits in Bob's one-time pad will be wrong. Bob needs some redundancy in the incoming messages to determine that errors are present. One very crude form of redundancy is repeating the message two times. If the two copies are not identical, Bob knows that either the fiber is very noisy or someone is tampering with the transmission. Of course, sending everything twice is overkill; a Hamming or Reed-Solomon code is a more efficient way to do error detection and correction. But it should be clear that some redundancy is needed to distinguish a valid message from an invalid message, especially in the face of an active intruder.


The second cryptographic principle is that some measures must be taken to ensure that each message received can be verified as being fresh, that is, sent very recently. This measure is needed to prevent active intruders from playing back old messages. If no such measures were taken, our ex-employee could tap TCP's phone line and just keep repeating previously sent valid messages. Restating this idea we get.

Cryptographic principle 2: Some method is needed to foil replay attacks

One such measure is including in every message a timestamp valid only for, say, 10 seconds. The receiver can then just keep messages around for 10 seconds, to compare newly arrived messages to previous ones to filter out duplicates. Messages older than 10 seconds can be thrown out, since any replays sent more than 10 seconds later will be rejected as too old.

0 responce(s):

Post a Comment


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner