International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Felix Günther

ORCID: 0000-0002-8495-6610


Robust Channels: Handling Unreliable Networks in the Record Layers of QUIC and DTLS 1.3
The common approach in secure communication channel protocols is to rely on ciphertexts arriving in-order and to close the connection upon any rogue ciphertext. Cryptographic security models for channels generally reflect such design. This is reasonable when running atop lower-level transport protocols like TCP ensuring in-order delivery, as for example, is the case with TLS or SSH. However, protocols like QUIC or DTLS which run over a non-reliable transport such as UDP, do not—and in fact cannot—close the connection if packets are lost or arrive in a different order. Those protocols instead have to carefully catch effects arising naturally in unreliable networks, usually by using a sliding-window technique where ciphertexts can be decrypted correctly as long as they are not misplaced too far. In order to be able to capture QUIC and the newest DTLS version 1.3, we introduce a generalized notion of robustness of cryptographic channels. This property can capture unreliable network behavior and guarantees that adversarial tampering cannot hinder ciphertexts that can be decrypted correctly from being accepted. We show that robustness is orthogonal to the common notion of integrity for channels, but together with integrity and chosen-plaintext security it provides a robust analog of chosen-ciphertext security of channels. In contrast to prior work, robustness allows us to study packet encryption in the record layer protocols of QUIC and of DTLS 1.3 and the novel sliding-window techniques both protocols employ. We show that both protocols achieve robust chosen-ciphertext security based on certain properties of their sliding-window techniques and the underlying AEAD schemes. Notably, the robustness needed in handling unreliable network messages requires both record layer protocols to tolerate repeated adversarial forgery attempts. This means we can only establish non-tight security bounds (in terms of AEAD integrity), a security degradation that was missed in earlier protocol drafts. Our bounds led the responsible IETF working groups to introduce concrete forgery limits for both protocols and the IRTF CFRG to consider AEAD usage limits more broadly.
When Messages are Keys: Is HMAC a dual-PRF?
In Internet security protocols including TLS 1.3, KEMTLS, MLS and Noise, HMAC is being assumed to be a dual-PRF, meaning a PRF not only when keyed conventionally (through its first input), but also when "swapped" and keyed (unconventionally) through its second (message) input. We give the first in-depth analysis of the dual-PRF assumption on HMAC. For the swap case, we note that security does not hold in general, but completely characterize when it does; we show that HMAC is swap-PRF secure if and only if keys are restricted to sets satisfying a condition called feasibility, that we give, and that holds in applications. The sufficiency is shown by proof and the necessity by attacks. For the conventional PRF case, we fill a gap in the literature by proving PRF security of HMAC for keys of arbitrary length. Our proofs are in the standard model, make assumptions only on the compression function underlying the hash function, and give good bounds in the multi-user setting. The positive results are strengthened through achieving a new notion of variable key-length PRF security that guarantees security even if different users use keys of different lengths, as happens in practice.
Post-quantum Asynchronous Deniable Key Exchange and the Signal Handshake 📺
The key exchange protocol that establishes initial shared secrets in the handshake of the Signal end-to-end encrypted messaging protocol has several important characteristics: (1) it runs asynchronously (without both parties needing to be simultaneously online), (2) it provides implicit mutual authentication while retaining deniability (transcripts cannot be used to prove either party participated in the protocol), and (3) it retains security even if some keys are compromised (forward secrecy and beyond). All of these properties emerge from clever use of the highly flexible Diffie--Hellman protocol. While quantum-resistant key encapsulation mechanisms (KEMs) can replace Diffie--Hellman key exchange in some settings, there is no KEM-based replacement for the Signal handshake that achieves all three aforementioned properties, in part due to the inherent asymmetry of KEM operations. In this paper, we show how to construct asynchronous deniable key exchange by combining KEMs and designated verifier signature (DVS) schemes. There are several candidates for post-quantum DVS schemes, either direct constructions or via ring signatures. This yields a template for an efficient post-quantum realization of the Signal handshake with the same asynchronicity and security properties as the original Signal protocol.
On the Concrete Security of TLS 1.3 PSK Mode 📺
The pre-shared key (PSK) handshake modes of TLS 1.3 allow for the performant, low-latency resumption of previous connections and are widely used on the Web and by resource-constrained devices, e.g., in the Internet of Things. Taking advantage of these performance benefits with optimal and theoretically-sound parameters requires tight security proofs. We give the first tight security proofs for the TLS 1.3 PSK handshake modes. Our main technical contribution is to address a gap in prior tight security proofs of TLS 1.3 which modeled either the entire key schedule or components thereof as independent random oracles to enable tight proof techniques. These approaches ignore existing interdependencies in TLS 1.3's key schedule, arising from the fact that the same cryptographic hash function is used in several components of the key schedule and the handshake more generally. We overcome this gap by proposing a new abstraction for the key schedule and carefully arguing its soundness via the indifferentiability framework. Interestingly, we observe that for one specific configuration, PSK-only mode with hash function SHA-384, it seems difficult to argue indifferentiability due to a lack of domain separation between the various hash function usages. We view this as an interesting insight for the design of protocols, such as future TLS versions. For all other configurations however, our proofs significantly tighten the security of the TLS 1.3 PSK modes, confirming standardized parameters (for which prior bounds provided subpar or even void guarantees) and enabling a theoretically-sound deployment.
Puncturable Key Wrapping and Its Applications 📺
We introduce puncturable key wrapping (PKW), a new cryptographic primitive that supports fine-grained forward security properties in symmetric key hierarchies. We develop syntax and security definitions, along with provably secure constructions for PKW from simpler components (AEAD schemes and puncturable PRFs). We show how PKW can be applied in two distinct scenarios. First, we show how to use PKW to achieve forward security for TLS 1.3 0-RTT session resumption, even when the server's long-term key for generating session tickets gets compromised. This extends and corrects a recent work of Aviram, Gellert, and Jager (Journal of Cryptology, 2021). Second, we show how to use PKW to build a protected file storage system with file shredding, wherein a client can outsource encrypted files to a potentially malicious or corrupted cloud server whilst achieving strong forward-security guarantees, relying only on local key updates.
A Cryptographic Analysis of the TLS 1.3 Handshake Protocol
We analyze the handshake protocol of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol, version 1.3. We address both the full TLS 1.3 handshake (the one round-trip time mode, with signatures for authentication and (elliptic curve) Diffie–Hellman ephemeral ((EC)DHE) key exchange), and the abbreviated resumption/“PSK” mode which uses a pre-shared key for authentication (with optional (EC)DHE key exchange and zero round-trip time key establishment). Our analysis in the reductionist security framework uses a multi-stage key exchange security model, where each of the many session keys derived in a single TLS 1.3 handshake is tagged with various properties (such as unauthenticated versus unilaterally authenticated versus mutually authenticated, whether it is intended to provide forward security, how it is used in the protocol, and whether the key is protected against replay attacks). We show that these TLS 1.3 handshake protocol modes establish session keys with their desired security properties under standard cryptographic assumptions.
Separate Your Domains: NIST PQC KEMs, Oracle Cloning and Read-Only Indifferentiability 📺
Mihir Bellare Hannah Davis Felix Günther
It is convenient and common for schemes in the random oracle model to assume access to multiple random oracles (ROs), leaving to implementations the task --we call it oracle cloning-- of constructing them from a single RO. The first part of the paper is a case study of oracle cloning in KEM submissions to the NIST Post-Quantum Cryptography standardization process. We give key-recovery attacks on some submissions arising from mistakes in oracle cloning, and find other submissions using oracle cloning methods whose validity is unclear. Motivated by this, the second part of the paper gives a theoretical treatment of oracle cloning. We give a definition of what is an "oracle cloning method" and what it means for such a method to "work," in a framework we call read-only indifferentiability, a simple variant of classical indifferentiability that yields security not only for usage in single-stage games but also in multi-stage ones. We formalize domain separation, and specify and study many oracle cloning methods, including common domain-separating ones, giving some general results to justify (prove read-only indifferentiability of) certain classes of methods. We are not only able to validate the oracle cloning methods used in many of the unbroken NIST PQC KEMs, but also able to specify and validate oracle cloning methods that may be useful beyond that.

Program Committees

Crypto 2022
Eurocrypt 2022
Crypto 2020
Crypto 2019