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The Skein Hash Function Family

The Skein Hash Function Family

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Published by Chris Nash
Skein is a new family of cryptographic hash functions. Its design combines speed, security, simplicity, and a great deal of flexibility in a modular package that is easy to analyze.
Skein is a new family of cryptographic hash functions. Its design combines speed, security, simplicity, and a great deal of flexibility in a modular package that is easy to analyze.

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Published by: Chris Nash on Oct 29, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/07/2012

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The standard way to use a hash function for authentication is to use the HMAC construction [5, 82].
Skein can—of course—be used with HMAC, but this requires at least two hash computations for

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every authentication, which is inefficient for short messages. Skein has zero per-message overhead
when used as a MAC function.

UBI

UBI

UBI

UBI

0

Key

Config Message

0

type:Key type:Cfg type:Msg type:Out

Figure 8: Skein-MAC.

Turning Skein into a MAC is simple, as illustrated in Figure 8. Instead of starting with zero and
processing the configuration block, start with zero, process the key, and then the configuration
block. Or, looking at it the other way, Skein hashing is simply Skein-MAC with a null key. And
just as Skein’s output of the configuration block is a precomputable constant for a given state and
output size, Skein-MAC’s output of the configuration block can be precomputed for a given key.
Since the most common way to use a MAC is to authenticate multiple messages with a single key,
this considerably increases performance for short messages.

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