[Cryptography] The One True Cipher Suite
iang at iang.org
Mon Sep 9 03:58:11 EDT 2013
On 9/09/13 02:16 AM, james hughes wrote:
> I am honestly curious about the motivation not to choose more secure modes that are already in the suites?
Something I wrote a bunch of years ago seems apropos, perhaps minimally
as a thought experiment:
Hypothesis #1 -- The One True Cipher Suite
In cryptoplumbing, the gravest choices are apparently on the nature of
the cipher suite. To include latest fad algo or not? Instead, I offer
you a simple solution. Don't.
There is one cipher suite, and it is numbered Number 1.
Cypersuite #1 is always negotiated as Number 1 in the very first
message. It is your choice, your ultimate choice, and your destiny. Pick
If your users are nice to you, promise them Number 2 in two years. If
they are not, don't. Either way, do not deliver any more cipher suites
for at least 7 years, one for each hypothesis.
And then it all went to pot...
We see this with PGP. Version 2 was quite simple and therefore stable --
there was RSA, IDEA, MD5, and some weird padding scheme. That was it.
Compatibility arguments were few and far between. Grumbles were limited
to the padding scheme and a few other quirks.
Then came Versions 3-8, and it could be said that the explosion of
options and features and variants caused more incompatibility than any
standards committee could have done on its own.
Avoid the Champagne Hangover
Do your homework up front.
Pick a good suite of ciphers, ones that are Pareto-Secure, and do your
best to make the combination strong . Document the short falls and do
not worry about them after that. Cut off any idle fingers that can't
keep from tweaking. Do not permit people to sell you on the marginal
merits of some crazy public key variant or some experimental MAC thing
that a cryptographer knocked up over a weekend or some minor foible that
allows an attacker to learn your aunty's birth date after asking a
Resist the temptation. Stick with The One.
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