[Resource Topic] 2024/064: Extreme Algebraic Attacks

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Extreme Algebraic Attacks

Authors: Pierrick Méaux, Qingju Wang


When designing filter functions in Linear Feedback Shift Registers (LFSR) based stream ciphers, algebraic criteria of Boolean functions such as the Algebraic Immunity (AI) become key characteristics because they guarantee the security of ciphers against the powerful algebraic attacks. In this article, we investigate a generalization of the algebraic attacks proposed by Courtois and Meier on filtered LFSR twenty years ago. We consider how the standard algebraic attack can be generalized beyond filtered LFSR to stream ciphers applying a Boolean filter function to an updated state. Depending on the updating process, we can use different sets of annihilators than the ones used in the standard algebraic attack; it leads to a generalization of the concept of algebraic immunity, and more efficient attacks. To illustrate these strategies, we focus on one of these generalizations and introduce a new notion called Extreme Algebraic Immunity (EAI).

We perform a theoretic study of the EAI criterion and explore its relation to other algebraic criteria. We prove the upper bound of the EAI of an n-variable Boolean function and further show that the EAI can be lower bounded by the AI restricted to a subset, as defined by Carlet, Méaux and Rotella at FSE 2017. We also exhibit functions with EAI guaranteed to be lower than the AI, in particular we highlight a pathological case of functions with optimal algebraic immunity and EAI only n/4. As applications, we determine the EAI of filter functions of some existing stream ciphers and discuss how extreme algebraic attacks using EAI could apply to some ciphers.

Our generalized algebraic attack does not give a better complexity than Courtois and Meier’s result on the existing stream ciphers. However, we see this work as a study to avoid weaknesses in the construction of future stream cipher designs.

ePrint: https://eprint.iacr.org/2024/064

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