Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2014/479

Even more practical secure logging: Tree-based Seekable Sequential Key Generators

Giorgia Azzurra Marson and Bertram Poettering

Abstract: Computer log files constitute a precious resource for system administrators for discovering and comprehending security breaches. A prerequisite of any meaningful log analysis is that attempts of intruders to cover their traces by modifying log entries are thwarted by storing them in a tamper-resistant manner. Some solutions employ cryptographic authentication when storing log entries locally, and let the authentication scheme's property of forward security ensure that the cryptographic keys in place at the time of intrusion cannot be used to manipulate past log entries without detection. This strong notion of security is typically achieved through frequent updates of the authentication keys via hash chains. However, as security demands that key updates take place rather often (ideally, at a resolution of milliseconds), in many settings this method quickly reaches the limits of practicality. Indeed, a log auditor aiming at verifying a specific log record might have to compute millions of hash iterations before recovering the correct verification key.

This problem was addressed only recently by the introduction of seekable sequential key generators (SSKG). Every instance of this cryptographic primitive produces a forward-secure sequence of symmetric (authentication) keys, but also offers an explicit fast-forward functionality. The only currently known SSKG construction replaces traditional hash chains by the iterated evaluation of a shortcut one-way permutation, a factoring-based and hence in practice not too efficient building block.

In this paper we revisit the challenge of marrying forward-secure key generation with seekability and show that symmetric primitives like PRGs, block ciphers, and hash functions suffice for obtaining secure SSKGs. Our scheme is not only considerably more efficient than the prior number-theoretic construction, but also extends the seeking functionality in a way that we believe is important in practice. Our construction is provably (forward-)secure in the standard model.

Category / Keywords: secret-key cryptography / secured logging, forward security, seekability, pseudorandom generators

Original Publication (with major differences): ESORICS 2014

Date: received 17 Jun 2014

Contact author: bertram poettering at rhul ac uk

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Version: 20140621:163246 (All versions of this report)

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