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Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2014 14:27:22 -0800
From: "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
To: <>
Subject: RE: [PHC] Are password trailing 0's a problem?

In place of a c == 1 PBKDF2, I would say HKDF, which does not use an iteration count, is preferable in place of PBKDF2 in TigerKDF.  The key advantage is that HKDF-Extract uses the salt as the key, the password as the message for the pre-hashing.  Trailing 0 bytes in the salt are not so much of an issue.  <>.

In the CodesInChaos case, I see no reason to add in a PBKDF2 with c == 1, although you could use "purpose" in place of the PBKDF2 salt parameter (or use a combination of purpose and salt).

I think HKDF-Expand has attractive characteristics for expanding keys without compounding the offered iteration count, and that would be particularly apt if you ran a non-trivial iterative PBKDF2 with the same HMAC as the HKDF parts and the required output size to have a PRK for HKDF-Extract. 

 - Dennis

Aside: I think it would be useful for the HKDF "info"/"purpose" parameter to be part of HKDF-Extract too.  Something like HKDF-Extract(salt, IKM || info) -> PRK.

PS: Bill, I still think you have the password-length condition backwards.  When the password is LONGER than think hash-function's block size, it is pre-hashed in HMAC.  It is not pre-hashed for password text not larger than a hash-function block.  But this is solved in HKDF since it is pointless for a salt to be larger than a hash-function block and when the salts used are all the same length anyhow.  I also think that practical but generously-large values of an iteration count will successfully hide the timing of HKDF-Extract in any case.

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Cox [] 
Sent: Friday, March 7, 2014 13:21
Subject: Re: [PHC] Are password trailing 0's a problem?

On Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 6:23 AM, CodesInChaos <> wrote:
> I like putting PBKDF2 in between the two parts of HKDF:
> hash1 = HKDF-Extract(salt, password)
> hash2 = PBKDF2(hash1)
> hash3 = HKDF-Expand(hash2, purpose, length)
> Using HKDF-Expand avoids the large cost increase for larger outputs
> and supports a purpose string.
> Using HKDF-Extract avoid the collisions (both the >64 and the 0
> padding variants) because it uses the salt not the password as HMAC
> key.

This is cool.  Thanks for the pointer to HKDF.

[ ... ]

It does still potentially leak the password length, and there's zero
effort in HKDF_Extract to avoid it, and in fact it bypasses HMAC's
attempt to at least hide the length of a password shorter than 64
bytes.  Grr...

[ ... ]

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