[tor-dev] Specification for 'How to Safely Sign a statement with a .onion key'

Ian Goldberg iang at cs.uwaterloo.ca
Sun Nov 30 18:19:18 UTC 2014

On Fri, Nov 28, 2014 at 03:22:18PM +0000, Steven Murdoch wrote:
> On 24 Nov 2014, at 18:54, Tom Ritter <tom at ritter.vg> wrote:
> > Attached is a document written in the specification format for one
> > aspect of CA-signed .onion addresses - specifically a "What is a safe
> > way to sign (or not sign) a statement using the .onion key"  It
> > presents a couple options - I'd love to get feedback from folks on
> > which they prefer.
> An alternative scheme could be to take advantage of the fact that Tor
> does not RSA sign the descriptor itself but a SHA-1 hash of the
> descriptor. So if the signature for the purpose of getting a CA to
> accept the request uses a different hash function then there should
> not be any confusion.
> For example, rather than using the SHA-1 hash, use the SHA-1 HMAC
> under a hard-coded “key”. For the attacker to abuse this signature
> they would need to find a document which hashes to the same thing.
> This sounds like (but should be checked) to have the same difficulty
> as performing a collision attack (2^80 best case, 2^60 using
> cryptanalytic attacks).
> A convenient result of this scheme is that changing the “key” lets the
> same onion key be used for other purposes, and if the key is well
> chosen then the chances of someone using the same approach is
> negligible.

While finding M1 and M2 such that SHA-1-HMAC(k1,M1) = SHA-1-HMAC(k2,M2)
should be difficult for k1 \not= k2, even when k1 and k2 are known, it
is easy to find M2 (given k1 and M1) such that SHA-1-HMAC(k1,M1) =
SHA-1(M2), by the construction of HMAC, right?  Something like:

M2 = (k1 \xor opad) || SHA-1[ (k1 \xor ipad) || M1 ]


So I think the above is dangerous.

   - Ian

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