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Re: SSL trouble

> 1. The server is badly overloaded.

Let's not get implementations confused with algorithms ...
We were using ALPHA code when we started ....

With BETA clients, a hierarchy and select/poll loops, I reckon a server would 
stand a chance.

> It is vulnerable to a variety of active attacks:
> 2. "result hoarding" attacks: finding the result and reporting it "not found".


> 3. "dilution" attack: allocating some search space and not sweeping it.

Un ACKed space is re-allocated after the first scan has completed.

> 4. plain old "denial of service" attack: deliberately overloading the server
>    with bogus communications.

Few systems can resist such an attack !

> 5. And of course all of the above in their "buggy software or hardware"
>    versions.

... causing them ... yes -- especially (1) !!

> The random search has none of them:
> attacks 1 and 4: there is no server to overload

(4) is still applicable isn't it ?
What tells people to stop, or do they go on for ever ?

> attacks 2 and 3 are no worse than simply refusing to participate in the
> search, because the rest of the computation is independent of what any one
> party is doing.

(3) is just the same for the server -- it re-allocates.
(4) would require a restart :-(

> The main drawback of the random search is that the expected running "time" is
> the size of the key space instead of half the size for the sequential search
> ("time" here is the number of keys to try before finding the right one).

where "expected" is some loose average .....

My stats is *very* rusty, but I'd have thought it would be somewhat less than 
twice a linear search ...
However, I agree that as a ballpark figure, yes: it would be somewhere between 
N/2 and N ...

> In practice, because of server overload, our machines don't seem to be working
> more than half the time, so the random search could be actually faster than
> the sequential search.


> Even if it isn't, I think doing twice as much work
> is a good trade-off for protection against all attacks, and no more network
> or server problems, and no more allocation hassles for off-line users.

random probing does indeed have its merits.

Personally I'd go for a scheme whereby on finishing a random search, the 
client multicast a PGP signed message (there would be a WWW/email/telnet/... 
interface which would multicast for our non-connected members) allowing 
interested parties
1) to gather stats as to what actually happened
2) maps of "unsearched" areas to be built by anyone wanting to fill gaps
3) the "big boys" could learn to trust each other and use (2).
4) when all notified keys are tried, go in to killer mode, and try to find
   who is untrustworthy.  Someone can only try it once, and getting a "big boy"
   tag takes a while, and a lot of CPU cycles !

>  I suspect that sequential searching from a random starting point would be
>   much worse in the case of many independent searchers.

Convince me (please) ....

What size "chunks" should be scanned ?

> * Another drawback is that the worst-case running time is infinite (but it is
>   infinitely unlikely).

See above ... the big boys will do it eventually ...

> In conclusion, I think random searching is the way to go.

It has its advantages -- yes. Did you use it for Hal1 ?  :-))