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Decrypting a Class of Stream Ciphers Using Ciphertext Only

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1 Author(s)
Siegenthaler, T. ; Institute for Communication Technology, Federal Institute of Technology

Pseudonoise sequences generated by linear feedback shift registers [1] with some nonlinear combining function have been proposed [2]–[5] for cryptographic applications as running key generators in stream ciphers. In this correspondence it will be shown that the number of trials to break these ciphers can be significantly reduced by using correlation methods. By comparison of computer simulations and theoretical results based on a statistical model, the validity of this analysis is demonstrated. Rubin [6] has shown that it is computationally feasible to solve a cipher proposed by Pless [2] in a known plaintext attack, using as few as 15 characters. Here, the number of ciphertext symbols is determined to perform a ciphertext-only attack on the Pless cipher using the correlation attack. Our conclusion from the analysis is that the pseudonoise generator's output sequence and the sequences generated by the linear feedback shift registers should be uncorrelated. This leads to constraints for the nonlinear combining function to be used.

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Computers, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:C-34 ,  Issue: 1 )