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Section: New Results

Hash function cryptanalysis

Cryptographic hash functions are versatile primitives that are used in many cryptographic protocols. The security of a hash function h is usually evaluated through two main notions: its preimage resistance (given a target t, the difficulty of finding a message m s.t. h(m)=t) and its collision resistance (the difficulty of finding two messages m,m' s.t. h(m)=h(m')).

A popular hash function is the SHA-1 algorithm. Although theoretical collision attacks were found in 2005, it is still being used in some applications, for instance as the hash function in some TLS certificates. Hence cryptanalysis of SHA-1 is still a major topic in cryptography.

In 2015, we improved the state-of-the-art on SHA-1 analysis in two ways:

  • T. Espitau, P.-A. Fouque and P. Karpman improved the previous preimage attacks on SHA-1, reaching up to 62 rounds (out of 80), up from 57. The corresponding paper was published at CRYPTO 2015 [21] .

  • P. Karpman, T. Peyrin and M. Stevens developed collision attacks on the compression function of SHA-1 (i.e. freestart collisions). This exploits a model that is slightly more generous to the attacker in order to find explicit collisions on more rounds than what was previously possible. A first work resulted in freestart collisions for SHA-1 reduced to 76 steps; this attack takes less than a week to compute on a common GPU. The corresponding paper was published at CRYPTO 2015 [24] . This was later improved to attack the full compression function. Although the attack is more expensive it is still practical, taking less than two weeks on a 64 GPU cluster. The corresponding paper is currently under review for EUROCRYPT 2016 [32] .