Threefish

Last updated
Threefish
Skein permutation.png
General
Designers Bruce Schneier, Niels Ferguson, Stefan Lucks, Doug Whiting, Mihir Bellare, Tadayoshi Kohno, Jon Callas, Jesse Walker
First published2008
Related to Blowfish, Twofish
Cipher detail
Key sizes 256, 512 or 1024 bits
(key size is equal to block size)
Block sizes 256, 512 or 1024 bits
Rounds72 (80 for 1024-bit block size)
Speed6.1 cpb on Core 2. [1]

Threefish is a symmetric-key tweakable block cipher designed as part of the Skein hash function, an entry in the NIST hash function competition. Threefish uses no S-boxes or other table lookups in order to avoid cache timing attacks; [1] its nonlinearity comes from alternating additions with exclusive ORs. In that respect, it is similar to Salsa20, TEA, and the SHA-3 candidates CubeHash and BLAKE.

Symmetric-key algorithms are algorithms for cryptography that use the same cryptographic keys for both encryption of plaintext and decryption of ciphertext. The keys may be identical or there may be a simple transformation to go between the two keys. The keys, in practice, represent a shared secret between two or more parties that can be used to maintain a private information link. This requirement that both parties have access to the secret key is one of the main drawbacks of symmetric key encryption, in comparison to public-key encryption.

The NIST hash function competition was an open competition held by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop a new hash function called SHA-3 to complement the older SHA-1 and SHA-2. The competition was formally announced in the Federal Register on November 2, 2007. "NIST is initiating an effort to develop one or more additional hash algorithms through a public competition, similar to the development process for the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)." The competition ended on October 2, 2012 when the NIST announced that Keccak would be the new SHA-3 hash algorithm.

In cryptography, an S-box (substitution-box) is a basic component of symmetric key algorithms which performs substitution. In block ciphers, they are typically used to obscure the relationship between the key and the ciphertext — Shannon's property of confusion.

Contents

Threefish and the Skein hash function were designed by Bruce Schneier, Niels Ferguson, Stefan Lucks, Doug Whiting, Mihir Bellare, Tadayoshi Kohno, Jon Callas, and Jesse Walker.

Bruce Schneier American computer scientist

Bruce Schneier is an American cryptographer, computer security professional, privacy specialist and writer. Schneier is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, a program fellow at the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute. He has been working for IBM since they acquired Resilient Systems where Schneier was CTO. He is the author of several books on general security topics, computer security and cryptography. Schneier is also a contributing writer for The Guardian news organization.

Niels T. Ferguson is a Dutch cryptographer and consultant who currently works for Microsoft. He has worked with others, including Bruce Schneier, designing cryptographic algorithms, testing algorithms and protocols, and writing papers and books. Among the designs Ferguson has contributed to is the AES finalist block cipher algorithm Twofish as well as the stream cipher Helix and the Skein hash function.

Stefan Lucks is a researcher in the fields of communications security and cryptography. Lucks is known for his attack on Triple DES, and for extending Lars Knudsen's Square attack to Twofish, a cipher outside the Square family, thus generalising the attack into integral cryptanalysis. He has also co-authored attacks on AES, LEVIATHAN, and the E0 cipher used in Bluetooth devices, as well as publishing strong password-based key agreement schemes.

Description of the cipher [1]

Threefish works on words of 64 bits (unsigned Little endian integers). is the number of plaintext words and also of key words. The tweak consists of two words. All additions and subtractions are defined modulo .

The bit is a basic unit of information in information theory, computing, and digital communications. The name is a portmanteau of binary digit.

Integer Number in {..., –2, –1, 0, 1, 2, ...}

An integer is a number that can be written without a fractional component. For example, 21, 4, 0, and −2048 are integers, while 9.75, 5 1/2, and 2 are not.

Key schedule

Threefish uses different round keys (: Number of rounds). To calculate these keys an additional key word is appended to the original key words . An additional tweak word is also appended to the tweak words .

The purpose of the seemingly arbitrary constant is to frustrate some attacks that take advantage of the relationship between and the other keywords.

The round key words are now defined like this:

Here , and is the number of the round in which the round key is used.

Mix function

Threefish Mix Function Skein Mix Function.png
Threefish Mix Function

The mix function takes a tuple of words and returns another tuple of words . The function is defined like this:

is a fixed set of rotation constants chosen to achieve quick diffusion.

In cryptography, confusion and diffusion are two properties of the operation of a secure cipher identified by Claude Shannon in his 1945 classified report A Mathematical Theory of Cryptography. These properties, when present, work to thwart the application of statistics and other methods of cryptanalysis.

Permute

The permutation step swaps the positions of the words according to a constant pattern. Bit-level permutation is not achieved in this step, but this is not necessary since the MIX functions provides bit-level permutations in the form of bitwise rotations.[ citation needed ] The Permute step and rotation constants in the MIX functions are chosen in such a way that the overall effect is complete diffusion of all the bits in a data block.[ citation needed ]

Because this permutation is fixed and independent of the key, the time needed to compute it does not provide information about the key or plaintext. This is important because on most modern microprocessors performance optimisations can make the time taken to compute an array operation dependent on where the data is stored in memory. In ciphers where array lookup depends on either the key or plaintext (as is the case for the substitution step in AES), it can make the cipher vulnerable to timing attacks by examining the time required for encryption. The permutation is therefore deliberately designed to ensure that it should execute in the same fashion independent of the key being used or the data encrypted.[ citation needed ]

In cryptography, a timing attack is a side channel attack in which the attacker attempts to compromise a cryptosystem by analyzing the time taken to execute cryptographic algorithms. Every logical operation in a computer takes time to execute, and the time can differ based on the input; with precise measurements of the time for each operation, an attacker can work backwards to the input.

A full Threefish round

Threefish256 and Threefish512 apply this round 72 times (). Threefish1024 applies it 80 times ().

Final operations

After all rounds are applied, the last round key is added to the words and the words are converted back to a string of bytes.

Security

In October 2010, an attack that combines rotational cryptanalysis with the rebound attack was published. The attack mounts a known-key distinguisher against 53 of 72 rounds in Threefish-256, and 57 of 72 rounds in Threefish-512. It also affects the Skein hash function. [2] This is a follow-up to the earlier attack published in February, which breaks 39 and 42 rounds respectively. [3] In response to this attack, the Skein team tweaked the rotation constants used in Threefish and thereby the key schedule constants for round 3 of the NIST hash function competition. [1]

In 2009, a related key boomerang attack against a reduced round Threefish version was published. For the 32-round version, the time complexity is and the memory complexity is ; for the 33-round version, the time complexity is with a negligible memory usage. The attacks also work against the tweaked version of Threefish: for the 32-round version, the time complexity is and the memory complexity is ; for the 33-round version, the time complexity is with a negligible memory usage. [4]

See also

Related Research Articles

In cryptography, a block cipher is a deterministic algorithm operating on fixed-length groups of bits, called a block, with an unvarying transformation that is specified by a symmetric key. Block ciphers operate as important elementary components in the design of many cryptographic protocols, and are widely used to implement encryption of bulk data.

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Skein (hash function) cryptographic hash function

Skein is a cryptographic hash function and one of five finalists in the NIST hash function competition. Entered as a candidate to become the SHA-3 standard, the successor of SHA-1 and SHA-2, it ultimately lost to NIST hash candidate Keccak.

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Ferguson; et al. (2010-10-01). "The Skein Hash Function Family" (PDF). The paper in which Threefish was introduced.
  2. Dmitry Khovratovich; Ivica Nikolic; Christian Rechberger (2010-10-20). "Rotational Rebound Attacks on Reduced Skein".
  3. Dmitry Khovratovich & Ivica Nikolić (2010). "Rotational Cryptanalysis of ARX" (PDF). University of Luxembourg.
  4. Jiazhe Chen; Keting Jia (2009-11-01). "Improved Related-key Boomerang Attacks on Round-Reduced Threefish-512".