Loading AI tools

Measure of cryptographic strength From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In cryptography, **security level** is a measure of the strength that a cryptographic primitive — such as a cipher or hash function — achieves. Security level is usually expressed as a number of "bits of security" (also **security strength**),^{[1]} where *n*-bit security means that the attacker would have to perform 2^{n} operations to break it,^{[2]} but other methods have been proposed that more closely model the costs for an attacker.^{[3]} This allows for convenient comparison between algorithms and is useful when combining multiple primitives in a hybrid cryptosystem, so there is no clear weakest link. For example, AES-128 (key size 128 bits) is designed to offer a 128-bit security level, which is considered roughly equivalent to a RSA using 3072-bit key.

In this context, **security claim** or **target security level** is the security level that a primitive was initially designed to achieve, although "security level" is also sometimes used in those contexts. When attacks are found that have lower cost than the security claim, the primitive is considered **broken**.^{[4]}^{[5]}

Symmetric algorithms usually have a strictly defined security claim. For symmetric ciphers, it is typically equal to the key size of the cipher — equivalent to the complexity of a brute-force attack.^{[5]}^{[6]} Cryptographic hash functions with output size of *n* bits usually have a collision resistance security level *n*/2 and a preimage resistance level *n*. This is because the general birthday attack can always find collisions in 2^{n/2} steps.^{[7]} For example, SHA-256 offers 128-bit collision resistance and 256-bit preimage resistance.

However, there are some exceptions to this. The Phelix and Helix are 256-bit ciphers offering a 128-bit security level.^{[5]}^{[8]} The SHAKE variants of SHA-3 are also different: for a 256-bit output size, SHAKE-128 provides 128-bit security level for both collision and preimage resistance.^{[9]}

The design of most asymmetric algorithms (i.e. public-key cryptography) relies on neat mathematical problems that are efficient to compute in one direction, but inefficient to reverse by the attacker. However, attacks against current public-key systems are always faster than brute-force search of the key space. Their security level isn't set at design time, but represents a computational hardness assumption, which is adjusted to match the best currently known attack.^{[6]}

Various recommendations have been published that estimate the security level of asymmetric algorithms, which differ slightly due to different methodologies.

- For the RSA cryptosystem at 128-bit security level, NIST and ENISA recommend using 3072-bit keys
^{[10]}^{[11]}and IETF 3253 bits.^{[12]}^{[13]}The conversion from key length to a security level estimate is based on the complexity of the GNFS.^{[14]}^{: §7.5 } - Diffie–Hellman key exchange and DSA are similar to RSA in terms of the conversion from key length to a security level estimate.
^{[14]}^{: §7.5 } - Elliptic curve cryptography requires shorter keys, so the recommendations for 128-bit are 256-383 (NIST), 256 (ENISA) and 242 bits (IETF). The conversion from key size
*f*to security level is approximately*f*/ 2: this is because the method to break the Elliptic Curve Discrete Logarithm Problem, the rho method, finishes in 0.886 sqrt(2^{f}) additions.^{[15]}

The following table are examples of typical security levels for types of algorithms as found in s5.6.1.1 of the US NIST SP-800-57 Recommendation for Key Management.^{[16]}^{: Table 2 }

Security Bits | Symmetric Key | Finite Field/Discrete Logarithm (DSA, DH, MQV) | Integer Factorization (RSA) | Elliptic Curve (ECDSA, EdDSA, ECDH, ECMQV) |
---|---|---|---|---|

80 | 2TDEA^{[lower-alpha 1]} |
L = 1024, N = 160 |
k = 1024 |
160 ≤ f ≤ 223 |

112 | 3TDEA^{[lower-alpha 1]} |
L = 2048, N =224 |
k = 2048 |
224 ≤ f ≤ 255 |

128 | AES-128 | L = 3072, N = 256 |
k = 3072 |
256 ≤ f ≤ 383 |

192 | AES-192 | L = 7680, N = 384 |
k = 7680 |
384 ≤ f ≤ 511 |

256 | AES-256 | L = 15360, N = 511 |
k = 15360 |
f ≥ 512 |

Under NIST recommendation, a key of a given security level should only be transported under protection using an algorithm of equivalent or higher security level.^{[14]}

The security level is given for the cost of breaking one target, not the amortized cost for group of targets. It takes 2^{128} operations to find a AES-128 key, yet the same number of amortized operations is required for any number *m* of keys. On the other hand, breaking *m* ECC keys using the rho method require sqrt(*m*) times the base cost.^{[15]}^{[17]}

A cryptographic primitive is considered broken when an attack is found to have less than its advertised level of security. However, not all such attacks are practical: most currently demonstrated attacks take fewer than 2^{40} operations, which translates to a few hours on an average PC. The costliest demonstrated attack on hash functions is the 2^{61.2} attack on SHA-1, which took 2 months on 900 GTX 970 GPUs, and cost US$75,000 (although the researchers estimate only $11,000 was needed to find a collision).^{[18]}

Aumasson draws the line between practical and impractical attacks at 2^{80} operations. He proposes a new terminology:^{[19]}

- A
*broken*primitive has an attack taking ≤ 2^{80}operations. An attack can be plausibly carried out. - A
*wounded*primitive has an attack taking between 2^{80}and around 2^{100}operations. An attack is not possible right now, but future improvements are likely to make it possible. - An
*attacked*primitive has an attack that is cheaper than the security claim, but much costlier than 2^{100}. Such an attack is too far from being practical. - Finally, an
*analyzed*primitive is one with no attacks cheaper than its security claim.

Seamless Wikipedia browsing. On steroids.

Every time you click a link to Wikipedia, Wiktionary or Wikiquote in your browser's search results, it will show the modern Wikiwand interface.

Wikiwand extension is a five stars, simple, with minimum permission required to keep your browsing private, safe and transparent.