International Association for Cryptologic Research

International Association
for Cryptologic Research


Data-Independent Memory Hard Functions: New Attacks and Stronger Constructions

Jeremiah Blocki
Ben Harsha
Siteng Kang
Seunghoon Lee
Lu Xing
Samson Zhou
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-26951-7_20 (login may be required)
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Abstract: Memory-hard functions (MHFs) are a key cryptographic primitive underlying the design of moderately expensive password hashing algorithms and egalitarian proofs of work. Over the past few years several increasingly stringent goals for an MHF have been proposed including the requirement that the MHF have high sequential space-time (ST) complexity, parallel space-time complexity, amortized area-time (aAT) complexity and sustained space complexity. Data-Independent Memory Hard Functions (iMHFs) are of special interest in the context of password hashing as they naturally resist side-channel attacks. iMHFs can be specified using a directed acyclic graph (DAG) G with $$N=2^n$$ nodes and low indegree and the complexity of the iMHF can be analyzed using a pebbling game. Recently, Alwen et al. [ABH17] constructed a DAG called DRSample that has aAT complexity at least $$\varOmega \!\left( N^2/{\text {log}} N\right) $$ . Asymptotically DRSample outperformed all prior iMHF constructions including Argon2i, winner of the password hashing competition (aAT cost $${\mathcal {O}} \!\left( N^{1.767}\right) $$ ), though the constants in these bounds are poorly understood. We show that the greedy pebbling strategy of Boneh et al. [BCS16] is particularly effective against DRSample e.g., the aAT cost is $${\mathcal {O}} (N^2/{\text {log}} N)$$ . In fact, our empirical analysis reverses the prior conclusion of Alwen et al. that DRSample provides stronger resistance to known pebbling attacks for practical values of $$N \le 2^{24}$$ . We construct a new iMHF candidate (DRSample+BRG) by using the bit-reversal graph to extend DRSample. We then prove that the construction is asymptotically optimal under every MHF criteria, and we empirically demonstrate that our iMHF provides the best resistance to known pebbling attacks. For example, we show that any parallel pebbling attack either has aAT cost $$\omega (N^2)$$ or requires at least $$\varOmega (N)$$ steps with $$\varOmega (N/{\text {log}} N)$$ pebbles on the DAG. This makes our construction the first practical iMHF with a strong sustained space-complexity guarantee and immediately implies that any parallel pebbling has aAT complexity $$\varOmega (N^2/{\text {log}} N)$$ . We also prove that any sequential pebbling (including the greedy pebbling attack) has aAT cost $$\varOmega \!\left( N^2\right) $$ and, if a plausible conjecture holds, any parallel pebbling has aAT cost $$\varOmega (N^2 \log \log N/{\text {log}} N)$$ —the best possible bound for an iMHF. We implement our new iMHF and demonstrate that it is just as fast as Argon2. Along the way we propose a simple modification to the Argon2 round function that increases an attacker’s aAT cost by nearly an order of magnitude without increasing running time on a CPU. Finally, we give a pebbling reduction that proves that in the parallel random oracle model (PROM) the cost of evaluating an iMHF like Argon2i or DRSample+BRG is given by the pebbling cost of the underlying DAG. Prior pebbling reductions assumed that the iMHF round function concatenates input labels before hashing and did not apply to practical iMHFs such as Argon2i, DRSample or DRSample+BRG where input labels are instead XORed together.
Video from CRYPTO 2019
  title={Data-Independent Memory Hard Functions: New Attacks and Stronger Constructions},
  booktitle={Advances in Cryptology – CRYPTO 2019},
  series={Lecture Notes in Computer Science},
  author={Jeremiah Blocki and Ben Harsha and Siteng Kang and Seunghoon Lee and Lu Xing and Samson Zhou},