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Date: Sat, 11 Apr 2015 09:59:52 +0300
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Re: [PHC] Pufferfish


On Sat, Apr 11, 2015 at 09:42:58AM +0300, Solar Designer wrote:
> In Pufferfish, the S-boxes can be made arbitrarily large.  With larger
> S-boxes, t_cost may reasonably be set lower - specifically to allow for
> filling larger amounts of memory.  Suppose t_cost is 0, or just one
> iteration of the main loop.  Rather than run that loop normally, the
> attacker runs only the first pf_expandkey() in it.  Then the attacker
> proceeds with the 64 iterations loop for the first output sub-block (32
> bytes from Blowfish in ECB mode, 64 bytes from SHA-512).  (It has to be
> the first one, since further ones depend on it via modified ctext.)  The
> attacker partially computes the second pf_expandkey() only as needed to
> provide the requires S-box elements.  Eventually, the computation
> terminates, while the highest required S-box index is potentially still
> somewhere below the maximum.  With very large S-boxes, this can
> effectively eliminate one of three calls to pf_expandkey() that are
> performed at t_cost = 0.  Thus, asymptotically the running time is
> reduced to 2/3 of what was intended.

I'm sorry, I realized it's not that bad before sending the message, but
I edited the above paragraph only partially.  The 2/3 worst case only
felt realistic for very large Pufferfish KDF output sizes, and only
before I realized that you have each 64-byte block of the output depend
on the previous one, so the "compute the most optimal for attacker
sub-block" attack doesn't work.  Only a relatively minor reduction in
overall computation is possible from this.  In absolute terms, it may
still be beneficial (in that it'd save more than it'd cost), but
relative to the total processing it's negligible.  Sorry for the false
alarm about this one.

The rest of what I wrote still holds.


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