Strongest Key, Hash, and Cypher Algorithms

Atom Smasher atom at
Mon Feb 7 22:37:09 CET 2005

Hash: SHA256

On Mon, 7 Feb 2005, Ryan Malayter wrote:

> [From Atom Smasher]
>> i don't like AES...
> None of the papers I've read suggest anything close to an attack that is 
> better than brute-force on full-round AES. Although, I have seen some in 
> the crypto field complain Rijndael is just "too simple" to be secure. Of 
> course, the same was said about RC4 many years ago, and AFAIK there are 
> still no attacks better than brute force against the RC4 algorithm 
> itself (protocol issues in WEP don't count).

there have been several succesful attacks against against RC4, but only 
when it's incorectly implemented. the lesson here is that some good 
algorithms are weakly implemented... some algorithms are difficult to 
implement correctly. i think elgamal for signatures falls into that 

> Just to edjumacate myself, as W. would say, what are your reasons for 
> disliking AES? I've been using it more and more frequently for VPNs I 
> set up when there is no hardware crypto assist available, since the CPU 
> utilization is so much lower than with 3DES.

 	Some cryptographers worry about the security of AES. They feel 
that the margin between the number of rounds specified in the cipher and 
the best known attacks is too small for comfort. The risk is that some way 
to improve these attacks might be found and that, if so, the cipher could 
be broken. In this meaning, a cryptographic "break" is anything faster 
than an exhaustive search, so an attack against 128-bit key AES requiring 
'only' 2120 operations would be considered a break even though it would 
be, now, quite infeasible. In practical application, any break of AES 
which is only this 'good' would be irrelevant. For the moment, such 
concerns can be ignored. The largest publically-known brute-force attack 
has been against a 64 bit RC5 key by

 	Another concern is the mathematical structure of AES. Unlike most 
other block ciphers, AES has a very neat mathematical description [2] 
(, [3] 
( This has not yet led to any attacks, 
but some researchers are worried that future attacks may find a way to 
exploit this structure.

 	In 2002, a theoretical attack, termed the "XSL attack", was 
announced by Nicolas Courtois and Josef Pieprzyk, showing a potential 
weakness in the AES algorithm. It seems that the attack, if the 
mathematics is correct, is not currently practical as it would have a 
prohibitively high "work factor". There have been claims of considerable 
work factor improvement, however, so the attack technique might become 
practical in the future. On the other hand, several cryptography experts 
have found problems in the underlying mathematics of the proposed attack, 
suggesting that the authors have made a mistake in their estimates. 
Whether this line of attack can be made to work against AES remains an 
open question. For the moment, as far as is publicly known, the XSL attack 
against AES is speculative; it is unlikely that anyone could carry out the 
current attack in practice.

- -- 

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Comment: What is this gibberish?


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