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Re: forward secrecy in mixmaster
Lance Cottrell <[email protected]> writes on several lists:
> >I wrote the socket stuff yesterday evening, didn't take too long as
> >socket programming is something I've done lots of.
> >Now comes what do you actually send down the sockets.
> >Question for Lance, and any others who were involved in mixmasters
> >implementation: what did you have in mind as a way of negotiating the
> >DH keys?
> >I notice that mixmaster generates a DH key and stores it in file
> >`DH.mix', but that this is not (as far as I can see from the source)
> >included in the remailers public key block.
> No, it is not in the key block. It would be passed during the negotiation.
Well the first DH parameter set (in a series of re-keyed DH
parameters) could just as easily go in the public key block. If you
were not doing rekeying, it would make sense to put the public DH
parameters in the key block, as it would remove the need to negotiate
these parameters, and simplify the protocol. As you're doing
rekeying, putting the parameters in the public key block makes a less
orthogonal protocol, adds nothing, and has the negative effect of
breaking compatibility with previous public key blocks. In short for
a rekeying protocol I agree :-)
> >[bigger keys!]
> Call me paranoid. After asking and reading around I decided I wanted to
> cover my bases. It looked like, in the future, it might be easier to break
> with small generators.
> This is not a critical decision though. I too would have liked it
> longer, but using RSAREF I am limited.
I suspected RSAs weird license might be the problem. (Given the
situation with PGP 2.x, I presume that the license does not permit you
to increase the max arithmetic precision.)
> That is one of the reasons I have each remailer creat its own DH
> modulus, and allow it to change it periodically.
Each remailer with it's own prime doesn't buy you a whole lot of
entropy because there aren't many mixmaster remailers, 4 bits
currently?. The entropy from having rekeying every day instead of say
every year, another 9 bits, 13 bits tops? I'm not sure what the
precise entropy increase is from going to 1024 to 4096, but it's got
to be many orders of magnitude better than 13 bits.
I'd say junk RSAREF for the DH operations, use one of the other libs.
(You can do this for DH, without violating patents, right? But not
for RSA, so I guess if you care about the patent/license agreement
mess, you've got to use RSAREF for RSA signatures at least). Or maybe
you could just wait for PGP 3.0 which uses El Gamal, for sigs and pk
encryption, and presumably will have less restrictive key sizes.
So as well as having bigger signing keys, for the sake of paranoia
(it's contagious), as you were saying, I guess you may gain some
security by not having a common modulus, and making the protocol allow
If you used a different password for RSA and DH keys, and your machine
is compromised, you can sign a new DH key with RSA, and use El Gamal
signatures with the DH key normally. Hows that for paranoid :-)
(Or another temporary RSA key, and RSA sigs, rather than El Gamal
sigs, whatever. You sign by proxy, that is the receiver mixmaster
gets a the temporary key signed by the long term RSA key, checks the
signature on the temporary key, and then checks the signature made by
the temporary key on the object in question).
Greatly reduces the risk of having the password in the binary. You'd
need to manually type the RSA keys password to rekey, or if you were
real paranoid, you could keep the RSA key on your laptop, and copy the
new signed DH public key on to the remailer. Do this once a month, or
as often as you wish.
This is a similar approach to that taken by people who have a huge
signing only PGP key, which they are careful to keep only on machines
they physically control, and have smaller keys which they use on
This also formalizes the situation where remailers have been
compromised, or suffered disk crashes. The operator says, "sorry
folks new type2 key for [email protected]", and if you're lucky signs
his post, and also his post of the original key, so that you know it's
not a hijacker, and if you're even more lucky, the user was around
when the first post was made, or searches through the archives for it,
and checks that the sigs show a persistent identity for the operator.
An improvement right? The remailers keep both their signing keys, and
their temporary signing keys available by request, the signing key
should not change through the remailers life-time.
> >A common modulus may offer a fatter target for attack (for some
> >precomputation attacks), but with large enough keys this probably
> >isn't that bad, as there aren't that many mixmasters anyway.
> >With a common modulus there is DH key negotiation needed, just include
> >it with the source.
> You have spelled out why I like having each remailer use its own modulus.
yeah, ok, I agree no common modulus. And rekeying.
> >a) include the DH key signed by the RSA key in the remailers public key
> > (may break backwards compatibility with existing versions of
> > mixmaster)
> >b) send the DH public key at the start of each session
> >c) send the DH public key on request
> I chose C. The in protocol I developed the sending remailer (A) sends a
> hash of the DH modulus to the receiving remailer (B). If B has it, they use
> it. If not, A sends it. I use the modulus from A because it has the stake
> in privacy. B will take messages from anyone, but A wants to know the
> messages it has goes to the correct other remailer B.
Also, you might want to migrate to SHA1 in place of MD5, at some
point. Or to one of those megahashes like
Also mixmaster has capabilities like type 1 remailers right? If so
you would presumably add a capability indicating that the remailer
supports direct socket delivery. And another capability for forward
secrecy (the other thread "non-interactive forward secrecy" discusses
ways to retro-fit a less interactive forward secrecy mechanism into
email delivered mixmaster packets).
The socket capability presumably would be useful to know that it is
likely to react more quickly. Forward secrecy is obviously nice to
know about for other reasons.