Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2018/1127

Freestyle, a randomized version of ChaCha for resisting offline brute-force and dictionary attacks

P. Arun Babu and Jithin Jose Thomas

Abstract: This paper introduces Freestyle, a randomized, and variable round version of the ChaCha cipher. Freestyle demonstrates the concept of hash based halting condition, where a decryption attempt with an incorrect key is likely to take longer time to halt. This makes it resistant to key-guessing attacks i.e. brute-force and dictionary based attacks. Freestyle uses a novel approach for ciphertext randomization by using random number of rounds for each block of message, where the exact number of rounds are unknown to the receiver in advance. Due to its inherent random behavior, Freestyle provides the possibility of generating up to $2^{256}$ different ciphertexts for a given key, nonce, and message; thus resisting key and nonce reuse attacks. This also makes cryptanalysis through known-plaintext, chosen-plaintext, and chosen-ciphertext attacks difficult in practice. Freestyle is highly customizable, which makes it suitable for both low-powered devices as well as security-critical applications. It is ideal for: (i) applications that favor ciphertext randomization and resistance to key-guessing and key reuse attacks; and (ii) situations where ciphertext is in full control of an adversary for carrying out an offline key-guessing attack.

Category / Keywords: secret-key cryptography / Brute-force resistant ciphers, Dictionary based attacks, Key-guessing penalty, Probabilistic encryption, Freestyle, ChaCha

Date: received 20 Nov 2018

Contact author: arun hbni at gmail com

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20181129:022630 (All versions of this report)

Short URL:

[ Cryptology ePrint archive ]