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Re: Small keysizes do make sense (was PGP Comment weakens...)

> I've found that in practice the compression pass takes longer than the
> RSA pass for PGP. If you accept the time for the file compression I
> don't see how you can have trouble with the 1024 bit RSA operation.

When in doubt, measure. The following measurements were done on a DEC
Alpha 3000/300, 150Mhz, Digital Unix 3.2. The first test file was an
email I sent this morning, with a size of 5379 bytes, which is typical
for the email I send. The second test file was the PostScript version
of a 52 page tech report done by our research group this summer, with
a size of 656676 bytes. The version of PGP used was MIT 2.6.2, compiled
with the default osf configuration (-O compile flag).

In all cases, user time only (not system time) is measured. This seems
reasonable, because neither compression nor RSA inherently require I/O.
The standard deviation on timings was somewhere around 5 or 10 ms. I
took the average "by eye" over about ten runs each. I did not include
signing tasks, as neither PGP/MIME signing nor clearsigning include a 
compression step.

Task 1: encrypt file, generating compressed output (RSA is quadratic)
keysize  compression  time   file size in   file size out
382      on           95 ms   5379 bytes      2205 bytes
382      off          90 ms   5379 bytes      8165 bytes
1024     on           90 ms   5379 bytes      2315 bytes
1024     off          85 ms   5379 bytes      8275 bytes
382      on           3.86 s  656676 bytes    255575 bytes
382      off          2.43 s  656676 bytes    920984 bytes
1024     on           3.84 s  656676 bytes    255685 bytes
1024     off          2.43 s  656676 bytes    921090 bytes

Task 2: decrypt file from Task 1 (RSA is cubic)
keysize  compression  time   file size in   file size out
382      on           135 ms  2205 bytes      5379 bytes
382      off          140 ms  8165 bytes      5379 bytes
1024     on           1.14 s  2315 bytes      5379 bytes
1024     off          1.14 s  8275 bytes      5379 bytes
382      on           1.43 s  255575 bytes    656676 bytes
382      off          2.68 s  920984 bytes    656676 bytes
1024     on           2.42 s  255685 bytes    656676 bytes
1024     off          3.74 s  921090 bytes    656676 bytes

We can conclude that for small files, the size of a typical email,
compression is completely negligible, and the effect of key size is
significant. We can also conclude that for large compressible files,
compression increases encryption time by roughly two seconds per
MB, but decreases decryption time by roughly the same amount (by
virtue of having to decrypt fewer bytes).