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Volume 14 / Issue 3

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-014-03-0347


New Results on NMAC/HMAC when Instantiated with Popular Hash Functions

Christian Rechberger (Graz University of Technology, Austria)

Vincent Rijmen (Graz University of Technology, Austria)

Abstract: Message Authentication Code (MAC) algorithms can provide cryptographically secure authentication services. One of the most popular algorithms in commercial applications is HMAC based on the hash functions MD5 or SHA-1. In the light of new collision search methods for members of the MD4 family including SHA-1, the security of HMAC based on these hash functions is reconsidered.

We present a new method to recover both the inner- and the outer key used in HMAC when instantiated with a concrete hash function by observing text/MAC pairs. In addition to collisions, also other non-random properties of the hash function are used in this new attack. Among the examples of the proposed method, the first theoretical full key recovery attack on NMAC-MD5 is presented. Other examples are distinguishing, forgery and partial or full key recovery attacks on NMAC/HMAC-SHA-1 with a reduced number of steps (up to 62 out of 80). This information about the new, reduced security margin serves as an input to the selection of algorithms for authentication purposes.

Keywords: authentication, cryptography, security

Categories: C.2.0, D.4.6, E.3, K.6.5