New Attacks on LowMC instances with a Single Plaintext/Ciphertext pair
Cryptanalysis of the LowMC block cipher when the attacker has access to a single known plaintext/ciphertext pair is a mathematically challenging problem. This is because the attacker is unable to employ most of the standard techniques in symmetric cryptography like linear and differential cryptanalysis. This scenario is particularly relevant while arguing the security of the Picnic digital signature scheme in which the plaintext/ciphertext pair generated by the LowMC block cipher serves as the public (verification) key and the corresponding LowMC encryption key also serves as the secret (signing) key of the signature scheme. In the paper by Banik et al. (IACR ToSC 2020:4), the authors used a linearization technique of the LowMC S-box to mount attacks on some instances of the block cipher. In this paper, we first make a more precise complexity analysis of the linearization attack. Then, we show how to perform a 2-stage MITM attack on LowMC. The first stage reduces the key candidates corresponding to a fraction of key bits of the master key. The second MITM stage between this reduced candidate set and the remaining fraction of key bits successfully recovers the master key. We show that the combined computational complexity of both these stages is significantly lower than those reported in the ToSC paper by Banik et al.
Cryptanalysis of LowMC instances using single plaintext/ciphertext pair
Arguably one of the main applications of the LowMC family ciphers is in the post-quantum signature scheme PICNIC. Although LowMC family ciphers have been studied from a cryptanalytic point of view before, none of these studies were directly concerned with the actual use case of this cipher in PICNIC signature scheme. Due to the design paradigm of PICNIC, an adversary trying to perform a forgery attack on the signature scheme instantiated with LowMC would have access to only a single given plaintext/ciphertext pair, i.e. an adversary would only be able to perform attacks with data complexity 1 in a known-plaintext attack scenario. This restriction makes it impossible to employ classical cryptanalysis methodologies such as differential and linear cryptanalysis. In this paper we introduce two key-recovery attacks, both in known-plaintext model and of data complexity 1 for two variants of LowMC, both instances of the LowMC cryptanalysis challenge.
Cryptanalysis of Plantlet 📺
Plantlet is a lightweight stream cipher designed by Mikhalev, Armknecht and Müller in IACR ToSC 2017. It has a Grain-like structure with two state registers of size 40 and 61 bits. In spite of this, the cipher does not seem to lose in security against generic Time-Memory-Data Tradeoff attacks due to the novelty of its design. The cipher uses a 80-bit secret key and a 90-bit IV. In this paper, we first present a key recovery attack on Plantlet that requires around 276.26 Plantlet encryptions. The attack leverages the fact that two internal states of Plantlet that differ in the 43rd LFSR location are guaranteed to produce keystream that are either equal or unequal in 45 locations with probability 1. Thus an attacker can with some probability guess that when 2 segments of keystream blocks possess the 45 bit difference just mentioned, they have been produced by two internal states that differ only in the 43rd LFSR location. Thereafter by solving a system of polynomial equations representing the keystream bits, the attacker can find the secret key if his guess was indeed correct, or reach some kind of contradiction if his guess was incorrect. In the latter event, he would repeat the procedure for other keystream blocks with the given difference. We show that the process when repeated a finite number of times, does indeed yield the value of the secret key. In the second part of the paper, we observe that the previous attack was limited to internal state differences that occurred at time instances that were congruent to 0 mod 80. We further observe that by generalizing the attack to include internal state differences that are congruent to all equivalence classed modulo 80, we lower the total number of keystream bits required to perform the attack and in the process reduce the attack complexity to 269.98 Plantlet encryptions.