Paper 2014/510

A Probabilistic Algebraic Attack on the Grain Family of Stream Cipher

Pratish Datta, Dibyendu Roy, and Sourav Mukhopadhyay


In 2005, Hell, Johansson and Meier submitted a stream cipher proposal named Grain v1 to the estream call for stream cipher proposals and it also became one estream nalists in the hardware category. The output function of Grain v1 connects its 160 bits internal state divided equally between an LFSR and an NFSR, using a non-linear lter function in a complex way. Over the last years many cryptanalyst identied several weaknesses in Grain v1. As a result in 2011 the inventors modied Grain v1 and published a new version of Grain named Grain-128a which has a similar structure as Grain v1 but with a 256 bits internal state with an optional authentication is the latest version of Grain family resisting all known attacks on Grain v1. However both these ciphers are quite resistant against the classical algebraic attack due to the rapid growth of the degree of the key-stream equations in subsequent clockings caused by the NFSR. This paper presents a probabilistic algebraic attack on both these Grain versions. The basic idea of our attack is to develop separate probabilistic equations for the LFSR and the NFSR bits from each key-stream equations. Surprisingly it turns out that in case of Grain-128a our proposed equations hold with all most sure probability, which makes the sure retrieval of the LFSR bits. We also outline a technique to reduce the growth of degree of the equations involving the NFSR bits for Grain v1. Further we high light that the concept of probabilistic algebraic attack as proposed in this paper can be considered as a generic attack strategy against any stream cipher having similar structure of the output function as in case of the Grain family.

Available format(s)
Secret-key cryptography
Publication info
Preprint. MINOR revision.
Boolean FunctionGrain v1Grain-128aAlgebraic AttackProbabilistic Algebraic Attack
Contact author(s)
msourav @ gmail com
2014-06-30: received
Short URL
Creative Commons Attribution


      author = {Pratish Datta and Dibyendu Roy and Sourav Mukhopadhyay},
      title = {A Probabilistic Algebraic Attack on the Grain Family of Stream Cipher},
      howpublished = {Cryptology ePrint Archive, Paper 2014/510},
      year = {2014},
      note = {\url{}},
      url = {}
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