[tor-dev] [proposal] Post-Quantum Secure Hybrid Handshake Based on NewHope

Jeff Burdges burdges at gnunet.org
Sat May 7 13:54:48 UTC 2016

Just a brief aside about post-quantum handshake approaches that
seemingly do not work. 

I suppose Tor folk remember the article  Using Sphinx to Improve
Onion Routing Circuit Construction  by  Aniket Kate and Ian Goldberg.
As key sizes are a main obstacle to a post-quantum key exchange,
one might explore using a Sphinx-like key mutation trick to save

I doubt SIDH could support anything like the key mutation trick in
Sphinx because the public key is much too far removed from the private

There are key mutation tricks for Ring-LWE key exchanges though.  As an
example, the article  Lattice Based Mix Network for Location Privacy in
Mobile System  by  Kunwar Singh, Pandu Rangan, and A. K. Banerjee
describes a primitive similar to universal reencryption. 

It's likely that key mutation requires fixing the polynomial a in
advance.  If a must change, then maybe it could be seeded by Tor's
collaborative random number generator, so that's actually okay. 

Now, a Sphinx-like route building packet could consist of :
   (1) a polynomial  u_i = s_i a + e_i,
along with an onion encrypted packet that gives each server
   (3) maybe their reconciliation data r_i, and
   (3) a transformation x_i : u_i -> u_{i+1} = s_{i+1} a + e_{i+1},
where i is the node's index along the path.

Any proposal for this transformation x_i needs a proof of security.
About the best you're going to do here is reducing its security to
existing Ring-LWE assumptions.  If say x_i means add s' a + e' so that
s_{i+1} = s_i + s' and e_{i+1} = e_i + e', then you're depending upon
the Ring-LWE assumptions to know that s' a + e' looks like a random

As a result, your hybrid protocol is unlikely to provably offer stronger
_anonymity_ properties than a pure Ring-LWE key exchange, even if its
_cryptography_ is as strong as the stronger of Ring-LWE and ECDH.  

I could say more about why say the choice of s' and e' might leak
information about s_i and e_i, but I wanted to keep this brief.  And the
essence of the observation is that any sort of the Sphinx-like key
mutation trick requires assumptions not required in a group. 

I found this an interesting apparent limit on making hybrids more
efficient than what Isis and Peter have proposed.  


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