Lattice Estimator, Rebooted

We have “rebooted” the LWE Estimator as the Lattice Estimator. This was born out of frustration with the limitations of the old codebase.

  • Here is how we had to express, e.g., NIST Round 1 Kyber-512 for the “Estimate all the {LWE, NTRU} schemes!” project:

    n = 512
    sd = 1.5811388300841898
    q = 7681
    alpha = sqrt(2*pi)*sd/RR(q)
    m = n
    secret_distribution = "normal"
    primal_usvp(n, alpha, q, secret_distribution=secret_distribution, m=m)
    

    In contrast, here’s how we express NIST Round 3 Kyber-512 now:

    from estimator import *
    Kyber512 = LWE.Parameters(
        n=2 * 256,
        q=3329,
        Xs=ND.CenteredBinomial(3),
        Xe=ND.CenteredBinomial(3),
        m=2 * 256,
        tag="Kyber 512",
    )
    

    That is, the user should not have to pretend their input distributions are some sort of Gaussians, the estimator should be able to handle standard distributions used in cryptography. Hopefully this makes using the estimator less error-prone.

  • It is well-established by now that making the Geometric Series Assumption for “primal attacks” on the Learning with Errors problem can be somewhat off. It is more precise to use a simulator to predict the shape after lattice reduction but the old estimator did not support this. Now we do:

    lwe.primal_usvp(Kyber512, red_shape_model="GSA")
    
    rop: ≈2^141.2, red: ≈2^141.2, δ: 1.004111, β: 382, d: 973, tag: usvp
    

    lwe.primal_usvp(Kyber512, red_shape_model="CN11")
    
    rop: ≈2^144.0, red: ≈2^144.0, δ: 1.004038, β: 392, d: 976, tag: usvp
    

    The design is (hopefully) modular enough that you can plug in your favourite simulator.

  • The algorithms we costed were getting outdated. For example, we had these (really slow) estimates for the “decoding attack” that was essentially equivalent to computing a BKZ-ϐ reduced basis followed by calling an SVP oracle in some dimension η. This is now implemented as primal_bdd.

    lwe.primal_bdd(Kyber512, red_shape_model="CN11")
    
    rop: ≈2^140.5, red: ≈2^139.3, svp: ≈2^139.6, β: 375, η: 409, d: 969, tag: bdd
    

    Similarly, our estimates for dual and hybrid attacks hadn’t kept up with the state of the art. Michael and Ben (both now at Zama) contributed code to fix that and have blogged about it here.

    lwe.dual_hybrid(Kyber512)
    
    rop: ≈2^157.7, mem: ≈2^153.6, m: 512, red: ≈2^157.4, δ: 1.003726, β: 440, d: 1008, ↻: ≈2^116.5, ζ: 16, tag: dual_hybrid
    

    lwe.primal_hybrid(Kyber512)
    
    rop: ≈2^276.4, red: ≈2^276.4, svp: ≈2^155.3, β: 381, η: 2, ζ: 0, |S|: 1, d: 1007, prob: ≈2^-133.2, ↻: ≈2^135.4, tag: hybrid
    

    We’re still not complete (e.g. BKW with sieving is missing), but the more modular design, e.g. the one-big-Python-file-to-rule-them-all is no more, should make it easier to update the code.

  • The rename is motivated by our ambition to add estimation modules for attacks on NTRU (not just viewing it as LWE) and SIS, too.

For most users, the usage should be fairly simple, e.g.

params = LWE.Parameters(n=700, q=next_prime(2^13), Xs=ND.UniformMod(3), Xe=ND.CenteredBinomial(8), m=1400, tag="KewLWE")
_ = LWE.estimate.rough(params)
usvp                 :: rop: ≈2^153.9, red: ≈2^153.9, δ: 1.003279, β: 527, d: 1295, tag: usvp
dual_hybrid          :: rop: ≈2^178.9, mem: ≈2^175.1, m: 691, red: ≈2^178.7, δ: 1.002943, β: 612, d: 1360, ↻: 1, ζ: 31, tag: dual_hybrid

 _ = LWE.estimate(params)

bkw                  :: rop: ≈2^210.4, m: ≈2^198.0, mem: ≈2^199.0, b: 15, t1: 0, t2: 16, ℓ: 14, #cod: 603, #top: 0, #test: 98, tag: coded-bkw
usvp                 :: rop: ≈2^182.3, red: ≈2^182.3, δ: 1.003279, β: 527, d: 1295, tag: usvp
bdd                  :: rop: ≈2^178.7, red: ≈2^178.1, svp: ≈2^177.2, β: 512, η: 543, d: 1289, tag: bdd
dual                 :: rop: ≈2^207.8, mem: ≈2^167.1, m: 695, red: ≈2^207.6, δ: 1.002926, β: 617, d: 1394, ↻: ≈2^165.5, tag: dual
dual_hybrid          :: rop: ≈2^201.3, mem: ≈2^197.4, m: 676, red: ≈2^201.1, δ: 1.003008, β: 594, d: 1341, ↻: ≈2^141.9, ζ: 35, tag: dual_hybrid

If you are an attack algorithm designer, we would appreciate if you would contribute estimates for your algorithm to the estimator. If we already have support for it implemented, we would appreciate if you could compare our results against what you expect. If you are a scheme designer, we would appreciate if you could check if our results match what you expect. If you find suspicious behaviour or bugs, please open an issue on GitHub.

You can read the documentation here and play with the new estimator in your browser here (beware that Binder has a pretty low time-out, though).

10 PhD Positions at Royal Holloway’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security for the Everyday

At Royal Holloway we are again taking applications for ten fully-funded PhD positions in Information Security. See the CDT website and the ISG website for what kind of research we do. Also, check out our past and current CDT students and our research seminar schedule to get an idea of how broad and diverse the areas of information security are in which the ISG works.

More narrowly, to give you some idea of cryptographic research (and thus supervision capacity) in the Cryptography Group at Royal Holloway: currently, we are nine permanent members of staff: Simon Blackburn (Maths), Saqib A. Kakvi, Keith Martin, Sean Murphy, Siaw-Lynn Ng, Rachel Player, Liz Quaglia and me. In addition, there are three postdocs working on cryptography and roughly 14 PhD students. Focus areas of cryptographic research currently are: lattice-based cryptography and applications, post-quantum cryptography, symmetric cryptography, statistics, access control, information-theoretic security and protocols.

To give you a better sense of what is possible, here are some example projects. These are in no way prescriptive and serve to give some ideas:

  1. I am, as always, interested in exploring lattice-based and post-quantum cryptography; algorithms for solving the hard underlying protocols, efficient implementations, lifting pre-quantum constructions to the post-quantum era.
  2. Together with my colleague Rikke Jensen, we want to explore security needs and practices in large-scale protests using ethnographic methods. We’ve done an interview-based (i.e. not ethnography-based) pilot with protesters in Hong Kong and think grounding cryptographic security notions in the needs, erm, on the ground, will prove rather fruitful.
  3. My colleague Rachel Player is looking at privacy-preserving outsourced computation, with a focus on (fully) homomorphic encryption.
  4. My (new) colleague Guido Schmitz uses formal methods to study cryptographic protocols.

Note that most of these positions are reserved for UK residents, which does, however, not mean nationality (see CDT website for details) and we can award three of our scholarships without any such constraint, i.e. international applicants. The studentship includes tuition fees and maintenance (£21,285 for each academic year).

To apply, go here. Feel free to get in touch if you have questions about whether this is right for you. Official announcement follows.

Continue reading “10 PhD Positions at Royal Holloway’s Centre for Doctoral Training in Cyber Security for the Everyday”

Collective Information Security in Large-Scale Urban Protests: the Case of Hong Kong

Our work – with Jorge Blasco, Rikke Bjerg Jensen and Lenka Mareková – on the use of digital communication technologies in large-scale protests in Hong Kong was accepted at USENIX ’21. A pre-print is available on arXiv. Here’s the abstract:

The Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill protests in Hong Kong present a rich context for exploring information security practices among protesters due to their large-scale urban setting and highly digitalised nature. We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 11 participants of these protests. Research findings reveal how protesters favoured Telegram and relied on its security for internal communication and organisation of on-the-ground collective action; were organised in small private groups and large public groups to enable collective action; adopted tactics and technologies that enable pseudonymity; and developed a variety of strategies to detect compromises and to achieve forms of forward secrecy and post-compromise security when group members were (presumed) arrested. We further show how group administrators had assumed the roles of leaders in these ‘leaderless’ protests and were critical to collective protest efforts.

Our work can be seen in the tradition of “Can Johnny Build a Protocol? Co-ordinating developer and user intentions for privacy-enhanced secure messaging protocols” which documented the divergence of what higher-risk users – such as those in conflict with the authorities of a nation state – need and want and what secure messaging developers design for. This divergence is noteworthy because “human-rights activists” are a common point of reference in discussions around secure messaging.

However, our focus is not activists but participants in large-scale protests, i.e. our focus is more closely tied to specific needs in moments of heightened conflict, confrontation and mass mobilisation. In particular, we interviewed people who were in some shape or form involved in the Anti-ELAB protests in Hong Kong in 2019/2020. Several of our participants described themselves as “frontliners” which roughly means they were present in areas where direct confrontations with law enforcement took place.

As the title suggests our data speaks to how security needs and practices in this population are collective in nature: how decisions about security are made, what security features are deemed important, how people learn to understand security technologies. As an example take post-compromise security and forward secrecy:

Continue reading “Collective Information Security in Large-Scale Urban Protests: the Case of Hong Kong”

Round-optimal Verifiable Oblivious Pseudorandom Functions from Ideal Lattices

PKC’21 is nearly upon us which – in this day and age – means a new YouTube playlist of talks. Eamonn and Fernando wrote a nice paper on on the success probability of solving unique SVP via BKZ which Fernando is describing here:

Alex is presenting our – with Amit and Nigel – work on round-optimal Verifiable Oblivious PseudoRandom Functions (VOPRF) from ideal lattices here:

Since Alex is doing an amazing job at walking you through our paper I won’t attempt this here. Rather, let me point out a – in my book – cute trick in one of our appendices that may have applications elsewhere.

Continue reading “Round-optimal Verifiable Oblivious Pseudorandom Functions from Ideal Lattices”

On BDD with Predicate: Breaking the “Lattice Barrier” for the Hidden Number Problem

Nadia and I put our pre-print and our source code online for solving bounded distance decoding when augmented with some predicate f(\cdot) that evaluates to true on the target and false (almost) everywhere else. Here’s the abstract:

Lattice-based algorithms in cryptanalysis often search for a target vector satisfying integer linear constraints as a shortest or closest vector in some lattice. In this work, we observe that these formulations may discard non-linear information from the underlying application that can be used to distinguish the target vector even when it is far from being uniquely close or short.

We formalize lattice problems augmented with a predicate distinguishing a target vector and give algorithms for solving instances of these problems. We apply our techniques to lattice-based approaches for solving the Hidden Number Problem, a popular technique for recovering secret DSA or ECDSA keys in side-channel attacks, and demonstrate that our algorithms succeed in recovering the signing key for instances that were previously believed to be unsolvable using lattice approaches. We carried out extensive experiments using our estimation and solving framework, which we also make available with this work.

Continue reading “On BDD with Predicate: Breaking the “Lattice Barrier” for the Hidden Number Problem”

Multicore BKZ in FPLLL

There have been a few works recently that give FPLLL a hard time when considering parallelism on multicore systems. That is, they compare FPLLL’s single-core implementation against their multi-core implementations, which is fair enough. However, support for parallel enumeration has existed for a while in the form of fplll-extenum. Motivated by these works we merged that library into FPLLL itself a year ago. However, we didn’t document the multicore performance that this gives us. So here we go.

I ran

for t in 1 2 4 8; do
  ./compare.py -j  $(expr 28 / $t)  -t $t -s 512 -u 80 ./fplll/strategies/default.json
done

where compare.py is from the strategizer and default.json is from a PR against FPLLL. Note that these strategies were not optimised for multicore performance. I ran this on a system with two Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2690 v4 @ 2.60GHz i.e. 28 cores. The resulting speed-ups are: multicore-bkz-in-fplll-default.png

As you can see, the speed-up is okay for two cores but diminishes as we throw more cores at the problem. I assume that this is partly due to block sizes being relatively small (for larger block sizes G6K – which scales rather well on multiple cores – will be faster). I also suspect that this is partly an artefact of not optimising for multiple cores, i.e. picking the trade-off between enumeration (multicore) and preprocessing (partly single-core due to LLL calls) right. If someone wants to step up and compute some strategies for multiple cores, that’d be neat.

Virtual FPLLL Days 6 aka Bounded Distance Development

The sixth FPLLL Days will be held on 19 and 20 November 2020. For obvious reasons they will be held online. (Who knows, we might end up liking the format enough to do more of these online in a post-COVID world, too).

As with previous incarnations of FPLLL Days, everyone who wishes to contribute to open-source lattice-reduction software is welcome to attend. In particular, you do not have to work on FPLLL or any of its sibling projects like FPyLLL or G6K. Work on whatever advances the state of the art or seems useful to you personally. That said, we do have the ambition to suggest projects from the universe of FPLLL and I personally hope that some people will dig in with me to do the sort of plumbing that keeps projects like these running. To give you an idea of what people worked on in the past, you can find the list of project of the previous FPLLL Days on the wiki and a report on the PROMETHEUS blog.

Format is yet to be determined. We are going to coordinate using Zulip. I think it would also be useful to have a brief conference call, roll call style, on the first day to break the ice and to make it easier for people to reach out to each other for help during the event. This is why we’re asking people to indicate their timezone on the Wiki. If you have ideas for making this event a success, please let us know.

PS: For the record: Joe threatened a riot if I didn’t call it “Bounded Distance Development”, so credit goes to him for the name.

Postdoc at Royal Holloway on Lattice-based Cryptography

I’m looking for a postdoc to work with me and others – in the ISG and at Imperial College – on lattice-based cryptography and, ideally, its connections to coding theory.

The ISG is a nice place to work; it’s a friendly environment with strong research going on in several areas. We got people working across the field of information security including several people working on cryptography. For example, Carlos Cid, Anamaria Costache, Lydia Garms, Jianwei Li, Sean Murphy, Rachel Player, Eamonn Postlethwaite, Joe Rowell, Fernando Virdia and me all have looked at or are looking at lattice-based cryptography.

A postdoc here is a 100% research position, i.e. you wouldn’t have teaching duties. That said, if you’d like to gain some teaching experience, we can arrange for that as well.

If you have e.g. a two-body problem and would like to discuss flexibility about being in the office (assuming we’ll all be back in the office at some post-covid19 point), feel free to get in touch.

Continue reading “Postdoc at Royal Holloway on Lattice-based Cryptography”

Mesh Messaging in Large-scale Protests: Breaking Bridgefy

Together with Jorge Blasco, Rikke Bjerg Jensen and Lenka Marekova we have studied the security of the Bridgefy mesh messaging application. This work was motivated by (social) media reports that this application was or is used by participants in large-scale protests in anticipation of or in response to government-mandated Internet shutdowns (or simply because the network infrastructure cannot handle as many devices at the same time as there are during such large protests). The first reports were about Hong Kong, later reports were then about India, Iran, US, Zimbabwe, Belarus and Thailand (typically referencing Hong Kong as an inspiration). In such a situation, mesh networking seems promising: a network is spanned between participants’ phones to create an ad-hoc local network to route messages.

Now, Bridgefy wasn’t designed with this use-case in mind. Rather, its designers had large sports events or natural disasters in mind. Leaving aside the discussion here if those use-cases too warrant a secure-by-default design, we had reason to suspect that the security offered by Bridgefy might not match the expectation of those who might rely on it.

Indeed, we found a series of vulnerabilities in Bridgefy. Our results show that Bridgefy currently permits its users to be tracked, offers no authenticity, no effective confidentiality protections and lacks resilience against adversarially crafted messages. We verify these vulnerabilities by demonstrating a series of practical attacks on Bridgefy. Thus, if protesters rely on Bridgefy, an adversary can produce social graphs about them, read their messages, impersonate anyone to anyone and shut down the entire network with a single maliciously crafted message. For a good overview, see Dan Goodin’s article on our work at Ars Technica.

We disclosed these vulnerabilities to the Bridgefy developers in April 2020 and agreed on a public disclosure date of 20 August 2020. Starting from 1 June 2020, the Bridgefy team began warning their users that they should not expect confidentiality guarantees from the current version of the application.

Let me stress, however, that, as of 24 August, Bridgefy has not been patched to fix these vulnerabilities and thus that these vulnerabilities are present in the currently deployed version. The developers are currently implementing/testing a switch to the Signal protocol to provide cryptographic assurances in their SDK. This switch, if done correctly, would rule out many of the attacks described in our work. They hope to have this fix deployed soon.

Continue reading “Mesh Messaging in Large-scale Protests: Breaking Bridgefy”

What does “secure” mean in Information Security?

This is text – written by Rikke Jensen and me – first appeared in the ISG Newsletter 2019/2020 under the title “What is Information Security?”. I’ve added a few links to this version.

The most fundamental task in information security is to establish what we mean by (information) security.

A possible answer to this question is given in countless LinkedIn posts, thought-leader blog entries and industry white papers: Confidentiality, Integrity, Availability. Since the vacuity of the “CIA Triad” is covered in the first lecture of the Security Management module of our MSc, we will assume our readers are familiar with it and will avoid this non-starter. Let us consider the matter more closely.

One subfield of information security that takes great care in tending to its definitions is cryptography. For example, Katz and Lindell write: “A key intellectual contribution of modern cryptography has been the recognition that formal definitions of security are an essential first step in the design of any cryptographic primitive or protocol”. Indeed, finding the correct security definition for a cryptographic primitive or protocol is a critical part of cryptographic work. That these definitions can be non-intuitive yet correct is made acutely apparent when asking students in class to come up with ideas of what it could mean for a block cipher to be secure. They never arrive at PRP security but propose security notions that are, well, broken.

Fine, we can grant cryptography that it knows how to define what a secure block cipher is. That is, we can know what is meant by it being secure, but does that imply that we are? Cryptographic security notions – and everything that depends on them – do not exist in a vacuum, they have reasons to be. While the immediate objects of cryptography are not social relations, it presumes and models them. This fact is readily acknowledged in the introductions of cryptographic papers where authors illustrate the utility of their proposed constructions by reference to some social situation where several parties have conflicting ends but a need or desire to interact. Yet, this part of the definitional work has not received the same rigour from the cryptographic community as complexity-theoretic and mathematical questions. For example, Goldreich writes: “The foundations of cryptography are the paradigms, approaches, and techniques used to conceptualize, define, and provide solutions to natural ‘security concerns’ ”. Following Blanchette we may ask back: “How does one identify such ‘natural security concerns’? On these questions, the literature remains silent”.

Continue reading “What does “secure” mean in Information Security?”