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Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2014 09:53:48 -0400
From: Bill Cox <waywardgeek@...il.com>
To: discussions@...sword-hashing.net
Subject: Re: [PHC] Deliberately GPU-friendly password hashes?

On Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 9:08 AM, Daniel Franke <dfoxfranke@...il.com> wrote:
> Steve Thomas <steve@...tu.com> writes:
>
>> Parallel it's SIMD, GPU, FPGA, and ASIC friendly. It's not memory-hard,
>> but as a defender you can use whatever hardware the attacker is using.
>> Well besides maybe ASICs but it depends on how interface to them is. If
>> it's a simple send password and salt or initial key and get a hash back
>> then yes, but if it's a here's the salt and hash now let me send you a
>> bunch of passwords to test and ask if one of the last N passwords match
>> then it won't work.
>
> I don't like the threat model implied by the argument you're
> making. You're assuming that the defender gets to adapt his algorithm
> and parameter choices to the attacker's hardware choices. The reality is
> the other way around.

While I agree Steve's anti-parallelism reaction could use an
adjustment, I think Steve does have a good point about the API to the
password hashing engine.  In pepper mode, for example, the GPU needs
to have the password hash so it can detect when it's got the right
answer.  Using a client's GPU in server relief mode wont work out so
well in this case.  We certainly don't want to be broadcasting
password hashes to anyone who wants to authenticate.  A modified
server-relief mode could do the trick maybe, by hashing all the
possible hashes produced with pepper, and using that as the client's
derived key.

However, on an authentication server such as envisioned in EARWORM,
you've got full control over the API, so it's not a problem.

That PHS entry that enables secure offloading of password hashing to
remote servers is cool.  It would be even cooler if we could figure
out how to make it use a monster GPU or even a GPU farm.  I could see
selling GPU farm time for password hashing to big geeks.  I'd buy a
few cycles :-)

I see three common attitudes on this list that I which I could
influence to change.  I guess that just means I have strong attitudes
a lot of these guys would have me change instead.  They are:

1) Parallelism is good for the attacker, and bad for the defender
2) Speed doesn't matter.  All that matters is security, and speed doesn't help.
3) Data written to memory in a memory hard PHS needs to be
cryptographically random.

The PHS web site does a good job explaining why there is such thing as
useful parallelism:

https://password-hashing.net/faq.html#qb

If that's not a good enough argument for parallelism, I might as well
be trying to convince someone to change their religion.  Using pepper
is a decent counter-argument, and including parallelism in a PHS does
complicate it, but pepper gives an attacker a free TMTO option.
Either way, we should all be able to agree that limited parallelism is
also good for the defender.

Speed not mattering in a memory hard password hashing scheme seems to
me to be an attitude from academia.  In the real world, time always
matters (did that login take 0.1 seconds or 10s?), and when the
strength of your memory hard PHS can be approximated by attacker
memory used * attacker runtime, it is critical to avoid giving an
attacker a free ride by having inefficient code or code that can
easily be sped up on a GPU of FPGA.  Again, this seems almost to be a
religious thing.  Guys on this list either do or don't seem to care at
all about speed, and it shows in the entries.  EARWORM's use of the
new AES instructions is a nice way to have your cake and eat it too,
but it does somewhat limit it's applicability.  I still have to
respect all the guys trying to have the AES instructions
runtime-harden their PHS.

Finally, I am saddened to be the only submitter to use a cryptographic
primitive like SHA256 for securely deriving an initial key, but then
filling memory with non-cryptographically pseudo-random data.  The
guys using the new AES instructions might be fast enough, but every
other memory hard entry is speed limited due to their reliance on a
strong hash function for deriving data to fill memory.  However, a lot
of these entries have trivial tests for non-randomness that easily
prove the memory is the result of their PHS, and not random.  The only
benefit of using a slow cryptographic primitive in this case is that
there is little need to worry that the whole thing can be reversed,
revealing the password or initial derived key.  I suppose it also
makes it simple to prove that there are no short-cuts an attacker can
take.  However, simply applying a strong hash function now and then
should be enough to gain similar confidence (which Alexander made me
do - I was being a dork before).

Anyway, I think applicability for GPU password strengthening should be
one of the criteria used by the PHS judges.

Bill

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