Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2020/275

Pholkos -- Efficient Large-state Tweakable Block Ciphers from the AES Round Function

Jannis Bossert and Eik List and Stefan Lucks and Sebastian Schmitz

Abstract: With the dawn of quantum computers, higher security than $128$ bits has become desirable for primitives and modes. During the past decade, highly secure hash functions, MACs, and encryption schemes have been built primarily on top of keyless permutations, which simplified their analyses and implementation due to the absence of a key schedule. However, the security of these modes is most often limited to the birthday bound of the state size, and their analysis may require a different security model than the easier-to-handle secret-permutation setting. Yet, larger state and key sizes are desirable not only for permutations but also for other primitives such as block ciphers. Using the additional public input of tweakable block ciphers for domain separation allows for exceptionally high security or performance as recently proposed modes have shown. Therefore, it appears natural to ask for such designs.

While security is fundamental for cryptographic primitives, performance is of similar relevance. Since 2009, processor-integrated instructions have allowed high throughput for the AES round function, which already motivated various constructions based on it. Moreover, the four-fold vectorization of the AES instruction sets in Intel's Ice Lake architecture is yet another leap in terms of performance and gives rise to exploit the AES round function for even more efficient designs.

This work tries to combine all aspects above into a primitive and to build upon years of existing analysis on its components. We propose Pholkos, a family of (1) highly efficient, (2) highly secure, and (3) tweakable block ciphers. Pholkos is no novel round-function design, but utilizes the AES round function, following design ideas of Haraka and AESQ to profit from earlier analysis results. It extends them to build a family of primitives with state and key sizes of $256$ and $512$ bits for flexible applications, providing high security at high performance. Moreover, we propose its usage with a $128$-bit tweak to instantiate high-security encryption and authentication schemes such as SCT, ThetaCB3, or ZAE. We study its resistance against the common attack vectors, including differential, linear, and integral distinguishers using a MILP-based approach and show an isomorphism from the AES to Pholkos-$512$ for bounding impossible-differential, or exchange distinguishers from the AES. Our proposals encrypt at around $1$--$2$ cycles per byte on Skylake processors, while supporting a much more general application range and considerably higher security guarantees than comparable primitives and modes such as PAEQ/AESQ, AEGIS, Tiaoxin346, or Simpira.

Category / Keywords: secret-key cryptography / AES, Tweakable block cipher, Cryptanalysis, Permutation

Date: received 2 Mar 2020, last revised 3 Mar 2020

Contact author: jannis bossert at uni-weimar de, eik list@uni-weimar de

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Version: 20200304:081015 (All versions of this report)

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