International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Solane El Hirch


Twin Column Parity Mixers and Gaston
We introduce a new type of mixing layer for the round function of cryptographic permutations, called circulant twin column parity mixer (CPM), that is a generalization of the mixing layers in KECCAK-f and XOODOO. While these mixing layers have a bitwise differential branch number of 4 and a computational cost of 2 (bitwise) additions per bit, the circulant twin CPMs we build have a bitwise differential branch number of 12 at the expense of an increase in computational cost: depending on the dimension this ranges between 3 and 3.34 XORs per bit. Our circulant twin CPMs operate on a state in the form of a rectangular array and can serve as mixing layer in a round function that has as non-linear step a layer of S-boxes operating in parallel on the columns. When sandwiched between two ShiftRow-like mappings, we can obtain a columnwise branch number of 12 and hence it guarantees 12 active S-boxes per two rounds in differential trails. Remarkably, the linear branch numbers (bitwise and columnwise alike) of these mappings is only 4. However, we define the transpose of a circulant twin CPM that has linear branch number of 12 and a differential branch number of 4. We give a concrete instantiation of a permutation using such a mixing layer, named Gaston. It operates on a state of 5*64 bits and uses chi operating on columns for its non-linear layer. Most notably, the Gaston round function is lightweight in that it takes as few bitwise operations as the one of NIST lightweight standard ASCON. We show that the best 3-round differential and linear trails of Gaston have much higher weights than those of ASCON. Permutations like Gaston can be very competitive in applications that rely for their security exclusively on good differential properties, such as keyed hashing as in the compression phase of Farfalle.
Improved Differential and Linear Trail Bounds for ASCON
Ascon is a family of cryptographic primitives for authenticated encryption and hashing introduced in 2015. It is selected as one of the ten finalists in the NIST Lightweight Cryptography competition. Since its introduction, Ascon has been extensively cryptanalyzed, and the results of these analyses can indicate the good resistance of this family of cryptographic primitives against known attacks, like differential and linear cryptanalysis.Proving upper bounds for the differential probability of differential trails and for the squared correlation of linear trails is a standard requirement to evaluate the security of cryptographic primitives. It can be done analytically for some primitives like AES. For other primitives, computer assistance is required to prove strong upper bounds for differential and linear trails. Computer-aided tools can be classified into two categories: tools based on general-purpose solvers and dedicated tools. General-purpose solvers such as SAT and MILP are widely used to prove these bounds, however they seem to have lower capabilities and thus yield less powerful bounds compared to dedicated tools.In this work, we present a dedicated tool for trail search in Ascon. We arrange 2-round trails in a tree and traverse this tree in an efficient way using a number of new techniques we introduce. Then we extend these trails to more rounds, where we also use the tree traversal technique to do it efficiently. This allows us to scan much larger spaces of trails faster than the previous methods using general-purpose solvers. As a result, we prove tight bounds for 3-rounds linear trails, and for both differential and linear trails, we improve the existing upper bounds for other number of rounds. In particular, for the first time, we prove bounds beyond 2−128 for 6 rounds and beyond 2−256 for 12 rounds of both differential and linear trails.