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RC4 Encryption Algorithm

RC4 Encryption Algorithm

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RC4 Encryption Algorithm with explained example
RC4 Encryption Algorithm with explained example

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Published by: ahmed on May 04, 2013
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RC4 Encryption

By: Ahmed Loqman Yousify

Computer Science Department
University Of Zakho

Overview
History
 

Discussion of RC4 Algorithm Analysis of RC4 Example
  

Weaknesses of RC4

History
RC4 was designed by Ron Rivest of RSA Security in 1987. While it is officially termed “Rivest Cipher 4”.

RC4 was initially a trade secret, but in September 1994 a description of it was anonymously posted to the Cypherpunks mailing list.
and from there to many sites on the Internet. RC4 has become part of some commonly used encryption protocols and standards, including WEP and WPA for wireless cards. The main factors in RC4's success over such a wide range of applications are its speed and simplicity: efficient implementations in both software and hardware are very easy to develop.

Analysis of RC4
Advantages 
Faster than DES  Enormous key space (average of 1700 bits)  RC4 is used in popular protocols such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) (to protect Internet traffic) SSL and In 802.11 WEP(to secure wireless networks).
 

Disadvantages 
Large number of “weak” keys 1 of 256  “Weak” keys can be detected and exploited with a high probability 

Weaknesses of RC4
Almost all weaknesses are in the KSA since attacking the PRGA is fairly  infeasible due to the huge effective key. The fastest known method requires 2700 time. The KSA can be attacked with several methods mainly because of the simple initialization permutation used.

Invariance Weakness is the most devastating attack. 
(5% chance of guessing one or more bytes of the key.) 

RC4 Description
Symmetric
 

Stream Cipher

Two main parts:


 

KSA (Key Scheduling Algorithm)

PRGA (Pseudo Random Generation Algorithm) Notation:

S = {0, 1, 2, … N-1} is the initial permutation l = length of

RC4 Description

Encryption

Decryption

RC4 Example
Simple 4-byte example

S = {0, 1, 2, 3}
K = {1, 7, 1, 7} Set i = j = 0

 

KSA
S[0]

K = {1, 7, 1, 7}
K[0]

First Iteration (i = 0, j = 0, S = {0, 1, 2, 3}): j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (0 + 0 + 1) = 1 Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {1, 0, 2, 3} Second Iteration (i = 1, j = 1, S = {1, 0, 2, 3}):
S[i] S = {0,1, 2, 3} S[j]

j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (1 + 0 + 7) = 0 (mod 4)
Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {0, 1, 2, 3}

KSA
S[0]

K = {1, 7, 1, 7}
K[0]

First Iteration (i = 0, j = 0, S = {0, 1, 2, 3}): j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (0 + 0 + 1) = 1 Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {1, 0, 2, 3} Second Iteration (i = 1, j = 1, S = {1, 0, 2, 3}):
S[i] 1 S = {0 ,1 , 2, 3} 0 S[j]

j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (1 + 0 + 7) = 0 (mod 4)
Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {0, 1, 2, 3}

KSA
S[0]

K = {1, 7, 1, 7}
K[0]

First Iteration (i = 0, j = 0, S = {0, 1, 2, 3}): j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (0 + 0 + 1) = 1 Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {1, 0, 2, 3} Second Iteration (i = 1, j = 1, S = {1, 0, 2, 3}):
1 S = { 1, 0 , 2, 3} 0

j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (1 + 0 + 7) = 0 (mod 4)
Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {0, 1, 2, 3}

KSA
First Iteration (i = 0, j = 0, S = {0, 1, 2, 3}): j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (0 + 0 + 1) = 1 Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {1, 0, 2, 3}
S[1]

K = {1, 7, 1, 7}
K[1]

Second Iteration (i = 1, j = 1, S = {1, 0, 2, 3}):

j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (1 + 0 + 7) = 0 (mod 4)
Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {0, 1, 2, 3}

KSA
S[2]

K = {1, 7, 1, 7}
K[2]

Third Iteration (i = 2, j = 0, S = {0, 1, 2, 3}): j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (0 + 2 + 1) = 3 Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {0, 1, 3, 2} Fourth Iteration (i = 3, j = 3, S = {0, 1, 3, 2}):

j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (3 + 2 + 7) = 0 (mod 4)
Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {2, 1, 3, 0}

KSA
Third Iteration (i = 2, j = 0, S = {0, 1, 2, 3}): j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (0 + 2 + 1) = 3 Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {0, 1, 3, 2}
S[3]

K = {1, 7, 1, 7}
K[3]

Fourth Iteration (i = 3, j = 3, S = {0, 1, 3, 2}):

j = (j + S[ i ] + K[ i ]) = (3 + 2 + 7) = 0 (mod 4)
Swap S[ i ] with S[ j ]: S = {2, 1, 3, 0}

PRGA
For this example we use plaintext “HI”

Reset i = j = 0, Recall S = {2, 1, 3, 0}
i=i+1=1 j = j + S[ i ] = 0 + 1 = 1 Swap S[ i ] and S[ j ]: S = {2, 1, 3, 0} Output z = S[ S[ i ] + S[ j ] ] = S[2] = 3 Z = 3 ( 0000 0011 ) H

0100 1000
XOR 0000 0011 0100 1011

i=1 , j=1 , S = {2, 1, 3, 0} i=i+1=2

j = j + S[ i ] = 1 + 3 = 4 (mod 4) = 0
Swap S[ i ] and S[ j ]: S = {3, 1, 2, 0} Output z = S[ S[ i ] + S[ j ] ] = S[1] = 1

Z = 3 ( 0000 0001 )
I 0100 1001 XOR 0000 0001

0100 1000
Result : Plaint Text : 0100 1000 0100 1001 Cipher Text: 0100 1011 0100 1000

Resources
Fluhrer, Mantin, Shamir - Weakness in the Key Scheduling Algorithm of RC4. 
http://www.drizzle.com/~aboba/IEEE/rc4_ksaproc.pdf

Stubblefield, Loannidis, Rubin – Using the Fluhrer, Mantin, and Shamir Attack to Break WEP.
http://www.cs.rice.edu/~astubble/wep/wep_attack.pdf

Rivest – RSA Security Response to Weakness in the Key Scheduling Algorithm of RC4.
http://www.rsasecurity.com/rsalabs/technotes/wep.html

RC4 Encryption Algorithm. 

http://www.ncat.edu/~grogans/algorithm_breakdown.htm

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