Before proceeding, we need to define two terms. For a hash value h = H(x), we say that x is the preimage of h. That is, x is a data block whose hash function, using the function H, is h.

**REQUIREMENTS AND
SECURITY**

Before proceeding, we need to define two terms. For a hash value *h *= H(*x*), we say that
*x
*is the **pre****i****mage **of *h*. That is, *x *is a data block whose hash function, using the
function H, is *h*. Because H is a many-to-one mapping,
for any given hash value *h*, there will in general
be multiple preimages. A **coll****i****s****i****on **occurs if we have *x *!= *y *and
H(*x*) = H(*y*). Because we are using hash functions
for data integrity, collisions are clearly undesirable.

Let us consider
how many preimages
are there for a given hash value,
which is a measure
of the number of potential
collisions for a given hash value. Suppose
the length of the hash code is *n *bits, and the function
H takes as input messages
or data blocks of length *b *bits
with *b *7 *n*. Then,
the total number of possible
messages is 2*b *and
the total number of possible hash values is 2*n*.
On average, each hash value corresponds to 2*b*/*n *preimages. If H tends to uniformly distribute hash values then, in
fact, each hash value will have close to 2*b*/*n *preimages.
If we now allow inputs of arbitrary length, not just a fixed length
of some number
of bits, then the number
of preimages per hash value is arbitrarily large.
However, the security
risks in the use
of a hash function are not as severe
as they might appear from this analysis. To understand better the security
implications of cryptographic hash functions,
we need precisely define
their security requirements.

Security Requirements for Cryptographic Hash Functions

Table 11.1 lists
the generally accepted
requirements for a cryptographic hash function.
The first three properties are
requirements for the practical application of a hash function.

The fourth property, **pre****i****mage res****i****stant**, is the one-way property: it is easy to
generate a code given a message, but virtually impossible to generate a message
given a code. This property
is important if the authentication technique involves the use
of a secret value (Figure
11.2c). The secret value
itself is not sent. However, if the

**Table 11****.****1 **Requirements for a Cryptographic Hash Function H** **

hash function is not one way, an attacker can easily discover the
secret value: If the attacker can observe or intercept a transmission, the
attacker obtains the message *M*, and the hash code *h *= H(*S *> *M*). The attacker
then inverts the hash function to obtain *S *> *M *= H-1(MD*M*). Because the attacker now has both *M *and *S**AB *> *M*, it is a trivial
matter to recover *S**AB*.

The fifth property, **second pre****i****mage
res****i****stant**, guarantees that it is impossible to find
an alternative message
with the same hash value
as a given message. This pre- vents forgery when an encrypted hash code is used (Figure
11.2b and Figure 11.3a). If this property were not true, an attacker
would be capable of the following sequence: First, observe
or intercept a message plus its encrypted
hash code; second, generate an unencrypted hash code
from the message; third, generate an alternate message with the same
hash code.

A hash function
that satisfies the first five properties in Table 11.1 is referred
to as a weak hash function. If the sixth property, **coll****i****s****i****on res****i****stant**, is also satisfied, then it is referred
to as a strong hash function. A
strong hash function protects against an attack in which one party generates a message for another party
to sign. For example, suppose
Bob writes an IOU message,
sends it to Alice, and she signs it.
Bob finds two messages with the same hash, one of which
requires Alice to pay a small amount and one that requires a
large payment. Alice signs the first message,
and Bob is then able to claim that the second message
is authentic.

Figure 11.5 shows the relationships among the three
resistant properties.
A function
that is collision resistant is
also second preimage resistant, but the reverse is not necessarily true. A function
can be collision resistant but not preimage resistant and vice versa. A function can be collision resistant but not second preimage resistant and vice versa.
See [MENE97] for a discussion.

Table 11.2 shows the resistant properties
required for various hash function applications.

The final requirement in Table 11.1, **pseudorandomness**, has not traditionally been listed as a
requirement of cryptographic hash functions but is more or less implied. [JOHN05]
points out that
cryptographic hash functions are commonly used for
key derivation and pseudorandom
number generation, and that in message
integrity applications, the three resistant properties depend on the
output of the hash function appearing
to be random. Thus, it makes sense to
verify that in fact a given hash function
produces pseudorandom output.

Brute-Force Attacks

As with encryption algorithms, there are two
categories of attacks on hash functions: brute-force attacks and cryptanalysis.
A brute-force attack does not depend on the specific algorithm but depends only
on bit length. In the case of a hash function, a brute-force attack depends
only on the bit length of the hash value. A
cryptanalysis, in contrast, is an attack
based on weaknesses in a particular cryptographic algorithm. We look
first at brute-force attacks.

**Table
11****.****2 **Hash Function Resistance Properties Required for Various
Data Integrity Applications

*PREIMAGE AND **SECOND **PREIMAGE *** ATTACKS **For a preimage or
second preimage attack, an adversary
wishes to find a value

COLLISION *RESISTANT *** ATTACKS
**For a collision resistant attack, an adversary
wishes to find two messages or
data blocks,

Yuval proposed the following strategy to
exploit the birthday paradox in a collision resistant attack [YUVA79].

**1.
**The source, A, is
prepared to sign a legitimate message *x *by
appending the appropriate *m*-bit hash
code and encrypting that hash code with A’s
private key (Figure 11.3a).

**2.
**The opponent generates 2*m*/2 variations *x*' of *x*, all of which convey essentially the same meaning,
and stores
the messages and their hash
values.

**3.
**The opponent prepares a fraudulent message *y *for
which A’s signature is desired.

**4.
**The opponent generates minor variations *y*' of *y*, all of which convey essentially the same meaning. For each *y*', the opponent computes *H*(*y*'), checks for matches with any of the *H*(*x*') values, and continues until a match is found. That is, the process continues until a *y*¿ is generated with a hash value equal to the hash value of one of the *x*' values.

**5.
**The opponent offers the valid variation
to A for signature. This signature can then be attached to the fraudulent
variation for transmission to the intended recipient.
Because the two variations have the same hash code, they will
produce the same signature; the opponent is assured of success even
though the encryption key is not known.

Thus, if a 64-bit hash code is used, the
level of effort required is only on the order of 232 [see Appendix 11A,
Equation (11.7)].

The generation of many variations that convey the same meaning
is not difficult. For example, the opponent could
insert a number
of “space-space-backspace” character pairs between words
throughout the document. Variations could
then be generated by substituting “space-backspace-space” in selected instances. Alternatively, the

opponent could simply reword the message but
retain the meaning. Figure 11.6 [DAVI89] provides an example.

To summarize, for a hash code of length *m*, the level of effort required, as we
have seen, is proportional to the following.

If collision resistance is required (and
this is desirable for a general-purpose secure
hash code), then the
value 2*m*/2 determines the strength
of the hash code against brute-force attacks. Van Oorschot and Wiener [VANO94] presented a design for a $10
million collision search machine for MD5, which has a 128-bit hash length, that
could find a collision in 24 days. Thus, a
128-bit code may be viewed as inadequate. The next step up, if a hash code is
treated as a sequence of 32 bits, is a 160-bit hash length. With a hash length
of 160 bits, the same search machine would require over four thousand years to
find a collision. With today’s technology, the
time would be much shorter, so that 160 bits now appears suspect.

Cryptanalysis

As with
encryption algorithms, cryptanalytic attacks on hash functions seek to exploit some property of
the algorithm
to perform some attack other than an exhaustive search. The way
to measure the resistance of a hash algorithm to crypt-
analysis is to compare its strength to the effort required for a brute-force
attack. That is, an ideal hash
algorithm will require a cryptanalytic effort greater than or equal to the
brute-force effort.

In recent years,
there has been considerable effort, and some successes,
in devel- oping cryptanalytic attacks on hash functions.
To understand these, we need to look at the overall
structure of a typical secure hash function,
indicated in Figure 11.7. This structure, referred to as an iterated
hash function, was proposed
by Merkle [MERK79, MERK89] and is the structure of most hash functions in use today, including SHA, which is discussed
later in this chapter.
The hash function takes an input message
and partitions it into *L *fixed-sized blocks of *b *bits each. If necessary, the final block is padded
to *b *bits. The final block also includes
the value of the total length
of the input to the hash function.
The inclusion of the length
makes the job of the opponent more
difficult. Either the opponent must find two messages
of equal length that hash to the
same value or two messages
of differing lengths
that, together with their length values,
hash to the same value.

The hash algorithm involves repeated use of
a **compress****i****on funct****i****on**, f, that takes two inputs (an *n*-bit
input from the previous step,
called the *chaining variable*, and a *b*-bit block) and produces an *n*-bit
output. At the start of hashing, the chaining
variable has an initial value that is specified as part of the algorithm. The final value

The motivation for this iterative structure stems from the observation by Merkle [MERK89] and Damgard [DAMG89] that if the compression function is collision
resis- tant, then so is the resultant iterated hash function.1 Therefore, the structure can be used to produce a secure hash function
to operate on a message of any length. The problem

of designing a secure hash function reduces
to that of designing a collision-resistant
compression function that operates on inputs of some fixed size.

Cryptanalysis of hash functions focuses on
the internal structure of f and is based on attempts to find efficient
techniques for producing collisions for a single execution of f. Once that is done, the attack must take into account
the fixed value of

IV.
The attack on f
depends on exploiting its internal structure. Typically,
as with symmetric block ciphers, f consists of a series of rounds of
processing, so that the attack involves analysis
of the pattern of bit changes from round to round.

Keep in mind that for any hash function there
must exist collisions, because we are mapping
a message of length at least equal to twice the block size *b *(because we must append a length field) into a hash code of length *n*, where *b *>= *n*. What is required is that it is computationally infeasible to find collisions.

The attacks that have been mounted on hash
functions are rather complex and beyond our scope here. For the interested
reader, [DOBB96] and [BELL97] are recommended.

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Cryptography and Network Security Principles and Practice : Cryptographic Data Integrity Algorithms : Cryptographic Hash Functions : Requirements and Security |

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