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Re^3: On showing the weakness in the MD5 digest function and getting bitten by scalar context

by Anonymous Monk
on Aug 27, 2004 at 19:10 UTC ( #386469=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^2: On showing the weakness in the MD5 digest function and getting bitten by scalar context
in thread On showing the weakness in the MD5 digest function and getting bitten by scalar context

It's a HASH, for crying out loud. It's not meant to be provably perfect at identifying unique data streams.
It IS meant to be computationally infeasible to find two messages with the same hash. If someone has found a way to do that, MD5 has failed at its original purpose.
Until someone shows that you can (1) take any arbitrary data set M, (2) falsify it to data set N, by (3) modifying a limited portion of M in an application-useful way and (4) adding less than a gigabyte of additional data, and (5) still come out with M=>H and N=>H hash equivalence, I'll trust MD5, thanks.
This is because you are ignorant. "I can't imagine an attack, therefore there is no attack."


Comment on Re^3: On showing the weakness in the MD5 digest function and getting bitten by scalar context
Re^4: On showing the weakness in the MD5 digest function and getting bitten by scalar context
by BrowserUk (Pope) on Aug 27, 2004 at 19:21 UTC
    t IS meant to be computationally infeasible to find two messages with the same hash.

    Total bollocks!

    It is mathematically IMPOSSIBLE to reduce every 32 byte message, to a 16-byte hash and and not have duplicates. If you believe otherwise I have an infinite compression algorithm that you might like to fund development of?

    The only ignorance is that on behalf of those that don't understand simple logic--like you apparently.


    Examine what is said, not who speaks.
    "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
    "Think for yourself!" - Abigail
    "Memory, processor, disk in that order on the hardware side. Algorithm, algorithm, algorithm on the code side." - tachyon
      Which part of "computationally infeasible" did you not understand? But I think it's better stated, "meant to be computationally infeasible to find a different message with the same hash", with two subcategories of infeasibility: where the original message is known, and where it is not.

        See 386498. Then point me at the vulnerability that this discovery opens up?

        I recently ran a process that produced 100 million md5s of randomly generated data. I hit duplicates in that process on at least two runs. For my purposes, using the md5 Digest as a hashing function, I simply added a space to the end of the text to maintain uniqueness. For that application, the trailing whitespace was irrelevant.

        But 2 runs out of 4 or 5 of 100 million showed duplicates. A total runtime of less than 24 hours. Was I just extraordinarially (un)lucky? I don't think so. As I said in another thread recently, stats ain't my strong suite, but I think that the odds of generating 2 matching pairs from 500 million is probably well within statistical norms.

        However, if you gave me an md5, and asked me to find a plaintext that matched it, without giving me the plaintext you had used to generate it. That would be computationally infeasible. This, I belive, is what the md5 algorithm is intended to achieve.

        But if you need the original plaintext in order to generate the new plaintext?

        Alternatively, take my trojan binary and the md5 from some trusted piece of code, and then tell me what bytes I need to insert into data space (and where) within that binary in order for it's md5 to match that of the trusted piece of software. That would be a vulnerability that would make me consider md5 broken.


        Examine what is said, not who speaks.
        "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
        "Think for yourself!" - Abigail
        "Memory, processor, disk in that order on the hardware side. Algorithm, algorithm, algorithm on the code side." - tachyon
      You are missing the point of the attack. One of the main properties of a cryptographic hash is that is hard to FIND a collision. There are certainly collisions, but with a secure hash function and a large enough size, it is practically impossible to find another input that produces the same hash. This is very important for many cryptographic protocols.

      This attack takes finding an MD5 hash collision from difficult brute force to relatively easy. This doesn't matter too much for many uses of MD5 where security isn't important.

        Maybe I am? Did you find something somewhere that suggested that they could start with an md5 and generate a plaintext with that md5?

        What I read, led me to believe that what they were saying is that they had discovered a way to take one piece of plain text, generate its md5, and then by manipulating the original plaintext, generate another plaintext with the same md5.

        But note. If I read it right, they need the original text to produce the new one.

        For password applications, this means they would need the original password in order to produce another piece of text that had the same md5. But why bother when you have the original password?

        So what other vulnerabilities arise from this discovery? If they start with the source or binary of some application that is downloadable and is checksummed with md5. They produce a modified version of that binary with the same md5. Will it run? Will it open a known port and listen for mother? Will it monitor the keyboard for passwords?

        Or, they have the text of an important message and it's md5. They produce a different message with the same md5. Will it cause the bank to transfer funds to their bank account? Or recall the nuclear bombers? Instruct the enemies operative in Washington to fall into the counter espionage trap at the cafe? Will it even be readable as English (French, German, Chinese or Swahili)?

        If the md5 is being used to stop them from knowing the text it was generated from (password), and they need to know that password to exploit the md5--no vulnerability.

        If there is open access to the plaintext, and the md5 is designed to ensure that the plaintext hasn't been altered, they can produce another plaintext with the same md5, but will it make any sense? Never mind actually do anything subversive, or to their advantage.

        Maybe I misunderstood what I read? Maybe, there is an application that allows the fact the the alternative plaintext is gibberish to be ignored and compromise something?


        Examine what is said, not who speaks.
        "Efficiency is intelligent laziness." -David Dunham
        "Think for yourself!" - Abigail
        "Memory, processor, disk in that order on the hardware side. Algorithm, algorithm, algorithm on the code side." - tachyon

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