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Re^8: On showing the weakness in the MD5 digest function and getting bitten by scalar context

by BrowserUk (Pope)
on Aug 28, 2004 at 08:34 UTC ( #386580=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Re^7: 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

From the RFC (which you appear to be (mis)quoting) -- my highlighting:

This document describes the MD5 message-digest algorithm. The algorithm takes as input a message of arbitrary length and produces as output a 128-bit "fingerprint" or "message digest" of the input.

It is conjectured that it is computationally infeasible to produce two messages having the same message digest, or to produce any message having a given prespecified target message digest.

The MD5 algorithm is intended for digital signature applications, where a large file must be "compressed" in a secure manner before being encrypted with a private (secret) key under a public-key cryptosystem such as RSA.


Cryptographic hashes are supposed to prevent someone from doing either one.

Nowhere in that do I see MD5 described as a "cryptographic hash"? Any application that uses a "digital signature" as a "cryptographic hash" based upon "conjectured...computational infeasibility" is a misapplication of the algorithm.

If the application needs a "cryptographic hash", it should be using one.

There are more uses of MD5 than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.

Ah yes, my dear Josephine Hardy*, but how many of them are misuses?


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


Comment on Re^8: On showing the weakness in the MD5 digest function and getting bitten by scalar context
Re^9: On showing the weakness in the MD5 digest function and getting bitten by scalar context
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 29, 2004 at 15:06 UTC

    Ok, you win. "Cryptographic hash" is not the formally correct terminology. I hang my head in shame. What I find interesting is that you dig up a quotation that says exactly what I've been telling you, but with different words, and use it to claim that I'm wrong.

    I wasn't quoting the RFC. It's interesting that they used almost the same language I did.

    You seem to think that your quotation says MD5 is a digital signature. It does not. It's telling you that MD5 can be used as part of a digital signature protocol.

    You also seem to think that the RFC is giving you a comprehensive list of all the allowable uses of MD5. It's not. It says "MD5 is part of this complete breakfast," but you don't have to eat it that way. If you want to learn what you should eat for breakfast, you have to study nutrition, not breakfast cereal advertisements.

      Do they say "chocolote frosted sugar bombs is part of this complete breakfast" in advertisments in the UK? Are you even in the UK? Whatever.

      I didn't "dig it up", I went to the source. The same place I went to at the very beginning.

      What I find interesting is that you read

      The MD5 algorithm is intended for digital signature applications,...
      and then say:
      You seem to think that your quotation says MD5 is a digital signature. It does not.

      Simple, clear language.

      That people, not those that designed it, have taken

      It is conjectured that it is computationally infeasible to produce two messages having the same message digest...
      to mean
      It is ... <close eyes> ... computationally infeasible to produce two messages having the same message digest...

      And then rant and rave when it doesn't, is not the fault of the designers of MD5.

      Talking of UK advertising slogans. There is a really good, long running one for a range of paint products here in the UK. The catchphrase is:

      (Ronseal)Does exactly what it say's (it will) on the packet.

      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
        The MD5 algorithm is intended for digital signature applications, where a large file must be "compressed" in a secure manner before being encrypted with a private (secret) key under a public-key cryptosystem such as RSA.
        MD5 does the compression. RSA does the encryption. Taken together, this operation is called a digital signature. RFC1321 does not lay this out for you in full detail, because it is not meant to be "the source" of information about anything except how to implement the MD5 algorithm.

        I'm not sure, at this point, what your beef is. MD5 was designed to have a certain set of properties. People used it, assuming that it did in fact have those properties. That assumption was shown to be false. Yet you seem (in a number of threads on perlmonks) to be arguing that people should continue to use MD5 anyway.

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