[cryptography] Workshop on Real-World Cryptography

Patrick Pelletier code at funwithsoftware.org
Sun Mar 3 22:05:06 EST 2013

On 3/2/13 4:12 AM, ianG wrote:

> This one had the talk written out, which makes it a top talk in just
> that alone:
>         things that bit us, things we fixed and
>         things that are waiting in the grass   [slides]
>         Adam Langley (Google)
>         http://www.imperialviolet.org/2013/01/13/rwc03.html

This article surprised me, because it could almost be read as an 
argument against AES (or even against block ciphers in general).  Which 
seems to contradict the common cryptographic wisdom of "just use AES and 
be done with it."

Besides the argument about AES having timing side-channels in #9, the 
room 101 section at the end suggests we should do away with not only 
CBC, but also AES-GCM, which is commonly touted as the solution to CBC's 
woes.  (He admits it was his most controversial point, and I'm curious 
how it was received when the talk was given.)  But I believe that if we 
rule out both CBC and AES-GCM ciphersuites in TLS, that leaves us with 
only RC4.  (And indeed, unsurprisingly given the author, RC4 seems to be 
what Google's sites prefer.)

It seems like we've been told for ages that RC4 is old and busted, and 
that AES is the one-size-fits-all algorithm, and yet recent developments 
like BEAST and Lucky 13 seem to be pushing us back into the arms of RC4 
and away from AES.

Although cipher suite proliferation is a common criticism of TLS (and 
indeed, it seems like neither Camellia nor SEED nor ARIA offer any 
benefit over AES as far as I'm aware, though I'm not a cryptographer), I 
wonder if there's benefit in adding a ciphersuite for a new stream 
cipher (such as Salsa20) to TLS, to eventually replace RC4?  Such a 
proposal could at least have clearly-stated goals (faster than RC4 and 
AES, more secure than RC4, avoiding the side-channel issues and CBC 
issues of AES), versus the unclear and never-stated goals of 


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