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Re: SSL search attacks

Jiri Baum writes
>> *coordinated* attack on the key.  We've established that there is a 1/e
>> cost factor in removing the central server.  I just threw out these
>Wouldn't it be possible to reduce the cost?
>Each client could pick a segment at random, check it and then broadcast
>a NAK. Other clients would then know that the segment in question has
>been done, and avoid picking it in the future. If you are worried about
>collisions, one could also have IGRAB, which would advise others that
>someone is working on a segment (you can still collide, but not so

This only reduces the cost if everyone is playing fair.  In practice,
it will usually *increase* the cost.  A denial of service attack can be
mounted by the owner of the key just by anonymously NAKing the segment
with the key.  Then you have to search the *whole* keyspace, fail to
find it, and start over with a new strategy.

>One advantage is that it is not necessary to have a central infinitely
>trusted server. (Nothing personal, but bogus server is an attack.)

An attack on what?  The overall model here is that someone presents
the world at large with a problem to solve.  Someone else volunteers
to coordinate the effort by providing a server.  Providing a bogus
server is an attack in the sense that it wastes the CPU cycles of
the clients, but they're junk cycles anyway.  It's kind of like the
issue about being "unable to participate" because the group effort
ignores the efforts of random searchers.  Those searchers *aren't*
participating, and not ignoring them opens the server to attack.
An "effort" coordinated by a bogus server is no effort at all.

My point is that the "random" efforts are no different than everyone
working on the problem independently, each picking a random place to
start and going sequentially from there.

>NAKs and IGRABs would be weighted by the trust accorded to the entity
>that originated them.

This is similar to what I outlined yesterday afternoon.  Let unsolicited
NAKs and IGRABs represent adjustments to the probability that a segment
is assigned to a client *inside* the group.  Invalid unsolicited NAKs
don't destroy the current search, they only slow it down slightly ---
but less than a fully random effort.

>  * the NAKs could be sent by e-mail, thus allowing badly connected
>and/or anonymous entities to participate.

This could be done in any case.  It just slows down the effective search
rate of the e-mail participants.

This might be an argument in favor of requesting more space as you get
near the end of your current space, though.  When the communications
latency starts to approach the segment search time, you cut down your
waiting time by prefetching work.