SHA1 broken?

Joseph Ashwood ashwood at
Fri Feb 18 03:11:30 PST 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Howe" <DaveHowe at>
Sent: Thursday, February 17, 2005 2:49 AM
Subject: Re: SHA1 broken?

> Joseph Ashwood wrote:
>  > I believe you are incorrect in this statement. It is a matter of public
>> record that RSA Security's DES Challenge II was broken in 72 hours by 
>> $250,000 worth of semi-custom machine, for the sake of solidity let's 
>> assume they used 2^55 work to break it. Now moving to a completely custom 
>> design, bumping up the cost to $500,000, and moving forward 7 years, 
>> delivers ~2^70 work in 72 hours (give or take a couple orders of 
>> magnitude). This puts the 2^69 work well within the realm of realizable 
>> breaks, assuming your attackers are smallish businesses, and if your 
>> attackers are large businesses with substantial resources the break can 
>> be assumed in minutes if not seconds.
>> 2^69 is completely breakable.
>>                Joe
>   Its fine assuming that moore's law will hold forever, but without that 
> you can't really extrapolate a future tech curve. with *todays* 
> technology, you would have to spend an appreciable fraction of the 
> national budget to get a one-per-year "break", not that anything that has 
> been hashed with sha-1 can be considered breakable (but that would allow 
> you to (for example) forge a digital signature given an example)
>   This of course assumes that the "break" doesn't match the criteria from 
> the previous breaks by the same team - ie, that you *can* create a 
> collision, but you have little or no control over the plaintext for the 
> colliding elements - there is no way to know as the paper hasn't been 
> published yet.

I believe you substantially misunderstood my statements, 2^69 work is doable 
_now_. 2^55 work was performed in 72 hours in 1998, scaling forward the 7 
years to the present (and hence through known data) leads to a situation 
where the 2^69 work is achievable today in a reasonable timeframe (3 days), 
assuming reasonable quantities of available money ($500,000US). There is no 
guessing about what the future holds for this, the 2^69 work is NOW.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Trei, Peter" <ptrei at>
To: "Dave Howe" <DaveHowe at>; "Cypherpunks" 
<cypherpunks at>; "Cryptography" <cryptography at>

> Actually, the final challenge was solved in 23 hours, about
> 1/3 Deep Crack, and 2/3 They were lucky, finding
> the key after only 24% of the keyspace had been searched.
> More recently, RC5-64 was solved about a year ago. It took
> 4 *years*.
> 2^69 remains non-trivial.

What you're missing in this is that Deep Crack was already a year old at the 
time it was used for this, I was assuming that the most recent technologies 
would be used, so the 1998 point for Deep Crack was the critical point. Also 
if you check the real statistics for RC5-64 you will find that suffered from a major lack of optimization on the workhorse 
of the DES cracking effort (DEC Alpha processor) even to the point where 
running the X86 code in emulation was faster than the native code. Since an 
Alpha Processor had been the breaking force for DES Challenge I and a factor 
of > 1/3  for III this crippled the performance resulting in the Alphas 
running at only ~2% of their optimal speed, and the x86 systems were running 
at only about 50%. Based on just this 2^64 should have taken only 1.5 years. 
Additionally add in that virtually the entire Alpha community pulled out 
because we had better things to do with our processors (e.g. IIRC the same 
systems rendered Titanic) and was effectively sucked dry of 
workhorse systems, so a timeframe of 4-6 months is more likely, without any 
custom hardware and rather sad software optimization. Assuming that the new 
attacks can be pipelined (the biggest problem with the RC5-64 optimizations 
was pipeline breaking) it is entirely possible to use modern technology 
along with GaAs substrate to generate chips in the 10-20 GHz range, or about 
10x the speed available to Add targetted hardware to the 
mix, deep pipelining, and massively multiprocessors and my numbers still 
hold, give or take a few orders of magnitude (the 8% of III done by Deep 
Crack in 23 hours is only a little over 2 orders of magnitude off, so within 
acceptable bounds).

2^69 is achievable, it may not be pretty, and it certainly isn't kind to the 
security of the vast majority of "secure" infrastructure, but it is 
achievable and while the cost bounds may have to be shifted, that is 
achievable as well.

It is still my view that everyone needs to keep a close eye on their hashes, 
make sure the numbers add up correctly, it is simply my view now that SHA-1 
needs to be put out to pasture, and the rest of the SHA line needs to be 
heavily reconsidered because of their close relation to SHA-1.

The biggest unknown surrounding this is the actual amount of work necessary 
to perform the 2^69, if the workload is all XOR then the costs and timeframe 
I gave are reasonably pessimistic, but if the required operations are 
dynamically sized mulitplies then the time*cost is off by some very large 

Even simple bulk computation assuming full pipelining says that 4700 4 GHz 
to complete 2^69 operations in 1 year, even assuming using full 3.8 GHz 
pentium 4s instead of a more optimal package only leads to a processor cost 
of 3.1 million for a 1 year 2^69, dropping that down to 2.4GHz celerons 
requires 7800 of them, but only $538,000. Moving to DSPs and FPGAs the costs 
will drop substantially, but I don't feel like looking it up, and as the 
costs drop the number of processors that can be used increases linearly 
additionally as the individual speeds drop the purchase cost drops better 
than linearly. I am quite confident that with careful engineering a custom 
box could be produced for the $500,000 mark that would do 2^69 operations in 
the proper timeframe. With deep pipelining any complexity of 2^69 operations 
could be done in the timeframe, but will scale the price. I suppose I should 
also point out an unspoken qualifier, I am assuming a large number of these 
machines will be built reducing the engineering overhead to miniscule, for a 
one-off project this will likely be the dominant cost.

2^69 work is achievable, the cost multiplier associated will be the 
determining factor.

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