Changing preferences

David Shaw dshaw at
Wed Sep 24 06:21:39 CEST 2008

On Sep 23, 2008, at 11:32 PM, Kevin Hilton wrote:

> Robert can probably give a better explanation that I, however with
> 3072 DSA signing keys, the SHA512 and SHA256 algorithms "functionally"
> produce the same length hash since the lower 256 bits are dropped as
> per the FIPS specification.  I've often wondered the consequences of
> such an action -- whether this makes the chance of a collision higher
> or equal in comparing the SHA512 modified hash product to the SHA256
> hash product.  Perhaps someone could elaborate on this.

In a perfect world, SHA512 truncated to 256 bits is exactly as strong  
as SHA256.  We don't, of course, live in a perfect world.  However,  
we're close enough in this case to treat the two as interchangeable in  
a practical world.  This is what NIST did when specifying the new DSA  
algorithm in FIPS-186-3.  They note that a 3072-bit DSA key needs a  
256-bit hash, but that any hash larger than necessary can be truncated  
to fit.  OpenPGP follows that spec, and so GPG will happily chop  
SHA512 to fit.


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