Paper 2005/220

Limits of the Cryptographic Realization of Dolev-Yao-style XOR

Michael Backes and Birgit Pfitzmann


The abstraction of cryptographic operations by term algebras, called Dolev-Yao models, is essential in almost all tool-supported methods for proving security protocols. Recently significant progress was made in proving that such abstractions can be sound with respect to actual cryptographic realizations and security definitions. The strongest results show this in the sense of reactive simulatability/UC, a notion that essentially means retention of arbitrary security properties under arbitrary active attacks and in arbitrary protocol environments, with only small changes to both abstractions and natural implementations. However, these results are so far restricted to cryptographic systems like encryption and signatures which essentially only have constructors and destructors, but no further algebraic properties. Typical modern tools and complexity results around Dolev-Yao models also allow more algebraic operations. The first such operation considered is typically XOR because of its clear structure and cryptographic usefulness. We show that it is impossible to extend the strong soundness results to XOR, at least not with remotely the same generality and naturalness as for the core cryptographic systems. On the positive side, we show the soundness of an XOR model and realization under passive attacks.

Available format(s)
Publication info
Published elsewhere. Appears at ESORICS'05
Dolev-YaosymbolicsoundnessXORsimulatabilityuniversal composability
Contact author(s)
mbc @ zurich ibm com
2005-07-09: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Michael Backes and Birgit Pfitzmann},
      title = {Limits of the Cryptographic Realization of Dolev-Yao-style XOR},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2005/220},
      year = {2005},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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