Hey! I'm David, the author of the Real-World Cryptography book. I'm a crypto engineer at O(1) Labs on the Mina cryptocurrency, previously I was the security lead for Diem (formerly Libra) at Novi (Facebook), and a security consultant for the Cryptography Services of NCC Group. This is my blog about cryptography and security and other related topics that I find interesting.

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Nothing up my sleeve numbers posted February 2015

Why does the round constants in sha1 have those specific values?

Kt is the round constant of round t;

from SH1-1 - Wikipedia:

The constant values used are chosen to be nothing up my sleeve numbers: the four round constants k are 230 times the square roots of 2, 3, 5 and 10. The first four starting values for h0 through h3 are the same with the MD5 algorithm, and the fifth (for h4) is similar.

In cryptography, nothing up my sleeve numbers are any numbers which, by their construction, are above suspicion of hidden properties. They are used in creating cryptographic functions such as hashes and ciphers. These algorithms often need randomized constants for mixing or initialization purposes. The cryptographer may wish to pick these values in a way that demonstrates the constants were not selected for a nefarious purpose, for example, to create a backdoor to the algorithm. These fears can be allayed by using numbers created in a way that leaves little room for adjustment. An example would be the use of initial digits from the number π as the constants. Using digits of π millions of places into its definition would not be considered as trustworthy because the algorithm designer might have selected that starting point because it created a secret weakness the designer could later exploit.

Flint vs NTL posted February 2015

I'm digging into the code source of Sage and I see that a lot of functions are implemented with Shoup's NTL. There is also FLINT used. I was wondering what were the differences. I can see that NTL is in c++ and FLINT is in C. On wikipedia:

It is developed by William Hart of the University of Warwick and David Harvey of Harvard University to address the speed limitations of the Pari and NTL libraries.

Although in the code source of Sage I'm looking at they use FLINT by default and switch to NTL when the modulus is getting too large.

By the way, all of that is possible because Sage uses Cython, which allows it to use C in python. I really should learn that...

EDIT:

This implementation is generally slower than the FLINT implementation in :mod:~sage.rings.polynomial.polynomial_zmod_flint, so we use FLINT by default when the modulus is small enough; but NTL does not require that n be int-sized, so we use it as default when n is too large for FLINT.

So the reason behind it seems to be that NTL is better for large numbers.

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Magma vs Sage vs Pari posted February 2015

I was looking for a way to know what are the real differences between magma, sage and pari. I only worked with sage and pari (and by the way, pari was invented at my university!) but heard of magma from sage contributors.

From the sage website: The Sage-Pari-Magma ecosystem

The biggest difference between Sage and Magma is that Magma is closed source, not free, and difficult for users to extend. This means that most of Magma cannot be changed except by the core Magma developers, since Magma itself is well over two million lines of compiled C code, combined with about a half million lines of interpreted Magma code (that anybody can read and modify). In designing Sage, we carried over some of the excellent design ideas from Magma, such as the parent, element, category hierarchy.

Any mathematician who is serious about doing extensive computational work in algebraic number theory and arithmetic geometry is strongly urged to become familiar with all three systems, since they all have their pros and cons. Pari is sleek and small, Magma has much unique functionality for computations in arithmetic geometry, and Sage has a wide range of functionality in most areas of mathematics, a large developer community, and much unique new code.

I also noticed that Sage provides an interface to Shoup's NTL through ntl. functions. Good to know!

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A tutorial on how to get into an admin account on ANY windows. posted February 2015

A step by step tutorial showing you how to get admin credentials on a windows machine: http://imgur.com/gallery/H8obU

tl;dr:

• reboot in start-up repair mode
• thanks to notepad replace sethc 1 with cmd
• so now when you press 5 times on shift it will call cmd instead of sethc 1
• you know have a shell, use command net localgroup Administrators to get a list of the admins
• type net user <ACCOUNT NAME HERE> * to change one account's password.

If you're looking for a "fix", microsoft advise you to turn off sticky keys all completely

And here's another exploit for windows 98

Note that as soon as you can access the hard drive, you don't need to use the first trick and can switch around programs in system32 as you wish (except if windows is encrypted with bitlocker). For example you can do this with an ubuntu live cd and swap cmd with the magnifier tool and you will be able to do the same thing.

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Awk in 20 minutes posted January 2015

I posted a tutorial of awk a few posts bellow. But this one is easier to get into I found. It says Awk in 20 minutes but I would say it takes way less than 20 minutes and it's concise and straight to the point, that's how I like it.

http://ferd.ca/awk-in-20-minutes.html

EDIT1: And here's a video of someone using a bunch of unix tools (awk, grep, cut, sed, sort, curl...) to parse a log file, pretty impressive and informative: https://vimeo.com/11202537

EDIT2: Here's another post playing with grep, sort, uniq, awk, xargs, find... http://aadrake.com/command-line-tools-can-be-235x-faster-than-your-hadoop-cluster.html

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How Differential Power Analysis (DPA) works? An explanation of the first paper from Kocher et al (1998) posted January 2015

I wanted to get into educational videos and this is my first big try (of 13minutes). I made some quick animations in Flash and some slides and I recorded it. I didn't want to spend too much time on it. It doesn't feel that clear, my English kinda got stuck sometimes and my animations were... crappy, let's say that :D but it's a first try, I will release other videos and improve on the way hopefully :) (I really need to get more pedagogical). So I hope this will at least help some of my fellow students (or people interested in the subject) in understanding Differential Power Analysis

Note: I made a mistake at the start of the video, DPA is non-invasive (source)

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How does TOR works posted January 2015

I've always wondered how TOR (The Onion Router) worked and was a bit scared of digging into it. After all, bitcoin is pretty hard to grasp, how would TOR be different? But I found out that TOR was actually a pretty simple concept!

The official explanation is top notch. To sum up, instead of sending a packet to the destination (google.com for example), you choose a route of TOR nodes that will lead to that destination (usually 3 nodes). And for efficiency purpose you will keep that route for 10 minutes)

The idea is similar to using a twisty, hard-to-follow route in order to throw off somebody who is tailing you

• The first node only see who's sending the packet (you) and who it is for (the second node). It decrypts the payload and send it to the second node.
• The second node only sees it came from the first node, decrypts the payload and send it to the third node
• The third node sees it came from the second node, decrypts the payload and send it to the destination (in clear if you don't use ssl)

From TOR's FAQ:

Can't the third server see my traffic?
Possibly. A bad third of three servers can see the traffic you sent into Tor. It won't know who sent this traffic. If you're using encryption, such as visiting a bank or e-commerce website, or encrypted mail connections, etc, it will only know the destination. It won't be able to see the data inside the traffic stream. You are still protected from this node figuring out who you are and if using encryption, what data you're sending to the destination.

To be able to do this, this is where the encapsulation or rather onion routing technique is used.

As we know the route we are going to take, we can encrypt several time our packet. For example: we'll encrypt the packet router B will have to send to router C with the public key of router A. So when router A opens the packet and decrypts it with its private key, he only sees the encrypted payload destined to router B. He can then send it to router B and the latter will decrypt it and send the payload to router C and on and on. I think the picture is clearer than my explanations.

Voilà! Not that hard huh?

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Sed and Awk tutorials posted January 2015

I just ran into amazing tutorials for sed and awk, two famous text processing tools on unix.

If you are on firefox I advise you to disable CSS (View > Page Style > No Style)

Sed

\$ echo day | sed s/day/night/
night

http://www.grymoire.com/Unix/sed.html

Awk

http://www.grymoire.com/Unix/Awk.html

What know?

There are still many text processing tools I need to learn, like strip, strings, xdd, grep, tr, xargs, cut, sort, tail, split, wc, uniq...

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