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Re: SSL search attack

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I've just kinda been watching this debate for a while, so I may well
have missed some of the more interesting details; if so, I apologize
for my noise in advance.

I work on a lot of commercial software under constraints of
scalability much like the SSL "attack server" being discussed here.
My instincts tell me that in this situation the whole process would be
*much* simpler if the basic idea of keeping the central server (or
the family of distributed servers in those models) completely
"informed" by all the attacking clients were abandoned.

Tim May's "random attack" idea was extremely attractive, I thought.
However, I think that it'd be possible to take advantage of the fact
that the keyspace itself is basically constant (until the keysize is
increased in the protocol under attack, of course).  I mean, 40 bits
is 40 bits.  Similarly, the capacity of most clients will be fairly
consistent.  (I have access (in theory, of course; don't mention this
to my management) (hi todd) to a hundred or so CPU's here, and that
doesn't really change too often.)

Rather than apportion the search space out dynamically on each attack,
why not simply allow attack clients to "subscribe" on a semi-permanent
basis?  All the server would have to do is make batches of ciphertext
available for cracking.  When a request comes in from a subscriber for
a copy of some ciphertext, the server knows (or at least can
legitimately suspect) that that subscriber's already-known keyspace
will be searched.

As far as getting acknowledgements of search completion, again the
server can by inference assume that (based on the prior establishment
of client capabilities) after a pre-determined period of time the key
sub-space will have been searched.  It might be appropriate for
clients to send back NACK messages, in case for example somebody shuts
down the client's network unexpectedly.  Assuming this goes pretty
smoothly one would hope that the number of failures would be
considerably smaller than the number of successs.

Again, ignore me if I'm blind to something obvious.

| Nobody's going to listen to you if you just | Mike McNally ([email protected]) |
| stand there and flap your arms like a fish. | Tivoli Systems, Austin TX    |