International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Daniel Collins


On Active Attack Detection in Messaging with Immediate Decryption
The widely used Signal protocol provides protection against state exposure attacks through forward security (protecting past messages) and post-compromise security (for restoring security). It supports immediate decryption, allowing messages to be re-ordered or dropped at the protocol level without affecting correctness. In this work, we consider strong active attack detection for secure messaging with immediate decryption, where parties are able to immediately detect active attacks under certain conditions. We first consider in-band active attack detection, where participants who have been actively compromised but are still able to send a single message to their partner can detect the compromise. We propose two complementary notions to capture security, and present a compiler that provides security with respect to both notions. Our notions generalise existing work (RECOVER security) which only supported in-order messaging. We also study the related out-of-band attack detection problem by considering communication over out-of-band, authenticated channels and propose analogous security notions. We prove that one of our two notions in each setting imposes a linear communication overhead in the number of sent messages and security parameter using an information-theoretic argument. This implies that each message must information-theoretically contain all previous messages and that our construction, that essentially attaches the entire message history to every new message, is asymptotically optimal. We then explore ways to bypass this lower bound and highlight the feasibility of practical active attack detection compatible with immediate decryption.
Network-Agnostic Security Comes (Almost) for Free in DKG and MPC
Distributed key generation (DKG) protocols are an essential building block for threshold cryptosystems. Many DKG protocols tolerate up to t_s<n/2 corruptions assuming a well-behaved synchronous network, but become insecure as soon as the network delay becomes unstable. On the other hand, solutions in the asynchronous model operate under arbitrary network conditions, but only tolerate t_a<n/3 corruptions, even when the network is well-behaved. In this work, we ask whether one can design a protocol that achieves security guarantees in either scenario. We show a complete characterization of _network-agnostic_ DKG protocols, showing that the tight bound is t_a + 2t_s < n. As a second contribution, we provide an optimized version of the network-agnostic MPC protocol by Blum, Liu-Zhang and Loss [CRYPTO'20] which improves over the communication complexity of their protocol by a linear factor. Moreover, using our DKG protocol, we can instantiate our MPC protocol in the _plain PKI model_, i.e., without the need to assume an expensive trusted setup. Our protocols incur comparable communication complexity as state-of-the-art DKG and MPC protocols with optimal resilience in their respective purely synchronous and asynchronous settings, thereby showing that network-agnostic security comes (almost) _for free_.
WhatsUpp with Sender Keys? Analysis, Improvements and Security Proofs
Developing end-to-end encrypted instant messaging solutions for group conversations is an ongoing challenge that has garnered significant attention from practitioners and the cryptographic community alike. Notably, industry-leading messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Signal Messenger have adopted the Sender Keys protocol, where each group member shares their own symmetric encryption key with others. Despite its widespread adoption, Sender Keys has never been formally modelled in the cryptographic literature, raising the following natural question: What can be proven about the security of the Sender Keys protocol, and how can we practically mitigate its shortcomings? In addressing this question, we first introduce a novel security model to suit protocols like Sender Keys, deviating from conventional group key agreement-based abstractions. Our framework allows for a natural integration of two-party messaging within group messaging sessions that may be of independent interest. Leveraging this framework, we conduct the first formal analysis of the Sender Keys protocol, and prove it satisfies a weak notion of security. Towards improving security, we propose a series of efficient modifications to Sender Keys without imposing significant performance overhead. We combine these refinements into a new protocol that we call Sender Keys+, which may be of interest both in theory and practice.