Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2004/185

On the Existence of low-degree Equations for Algebraic Attacks

Frederik Armknecht

Abstract: Algebraic attacks on block ciphers and stream ciphers have gained more and more attention in cryptography. The idea is to express a cipher by a system of equations whose solution reveals the secret key. The complexity of an algebraic attack is closely related to the degree of the equations. Hence, low-degree equations are crucial for algebraic attacks. So far, the existence of low-degree equations for simple combiners, combiners with memory and S-boxes was treated independently.

In this paper, we unify these approaches by reducing them to the same problem: finding low-degree annihilators. This enables a systematic treatment and implies a general criterion for the existence of low-degree equations.

The unification allows to extend former results to all three cases. Therefore, we repeat an algorithm for finding a generating set of all low-degree equations. Additionally, we introduce a new improved version, adapted to specific keystream generators (e.g., for the Bluetooth keystream generator).

Finally, we describe for certain cases an upper and a lower bound for the lowest possible degree. To the best of our knowledge, the upper bound has only been presented in the context of keystream generators before and the lower bound was not published previously.

Category / Keywords: secret-key cryptography / stream ciphers, block ciphers, algebraic attacks, low-degree equations, annihilators

Date: received 5 Aug 2004

Contact author: Armknecht at th informatik uni-mannheim de

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Version: 20040807:043459 (All versions of this report)

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