Cryptology ePrint Archive: Report 2022/019

Algebraic Meet-in-the-Middle Attack on LowMC

Fukang Liu and Gaoli Wang and Willi Meier and Santanu Sarkar and Takanori Isobe

Abstract: We propose a conceptually intuitive technique called algebraic meet-in-the-middle (MITM) attack in this paper. Different from the common MITM attacks where some intermediate state values are stored, several sets of linear equations will be stored in the algebraic MITM attack. Moreover, at the matching phase, it is necessary to first perform some linear transformations on the to-be-matched intermediate state value and only partial state bit information is used for the match. Once a match is found, retrieve the corresponding linear equation system and solve it to recover the full necessary information. This new technique fits very well with LowMC, a popular and important design using partial nonlinear layers. Based on it, we can reduce the memory complexity of the simple difference enumeration attack over state-of-the-art. Moreover, while an efficient algebraic technique to retrieve the full key from a differential trail of LowMC has been proposed at CRYPTO 2021, its time complexity is still exponential in the key size. In this work, we show how to reduce it to constant time when there are a sufficiently large number of active S-boxes in the trail. Specifically, the guess-and-determine strategy is no more adopted at the key-recovery phase, instead, we recover the full key by directly solving an overdefined system of quadratic equations. With the above new techniques, the attacks on LowMC and \mbox{LowMC-M} published at CRYPTO 2021 are further improved and some LowMC instances could be broken for the first time. Our results seem to indicate that partial nonlinear layers are still not well-understood.

Category / Keywords: secret-key cryptography / LowMC, LowMC-M, algebraic attack, linearization, key recovery, meet-in-the-middle

Date: received 6 Jan 2022, last revised 22 Jan 2022

Contact author: liufukangs at gmail com, takanori isobe at ai u-hyogo ac jp, glwang at sei ecnu edu cn, willimeier48 at gmail com, santanu at iitm ac in

Available format(s): PDF | BibTeX Citation

Note: Fix some typos.

Version: 20220122:022115 (All versions of this report)

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