Key recycling in authentication

Computer Science – Information Theory

Scientific paper

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15+6 pages, 3 figures

Scientific paper

In their seminal work on authentication, Wegman and Carter propose that to authenticate multiple messages, it is sufficient to reuse the same hash function as long as each tag is encrypted with a one-time pad. They argue that because the one-time pad is perfectly hiding, the hash function used remains completely unknown to the adversary. Since their proof is not composable, we revisit it using a universally composable framework. It turns out that the above argument is insufficient: information about the hash function is in fact leaked in every round to the adversary, and after a bounded finite amount of rounds it is completely known. We show however that this leak is very small, and Wegman and Carter's protocol is still \epsilon-secure, if \epsilon-almost strongly universal hash functions are used. This implies that the secret key corresponding to the choice of hash function can be recycled for any task without any additional error than this \epsilon. For example, if all the messages from many rounds of quantum key distribution are authenticated in this way, the error increases linearly in the number of rounds.

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