[bitcoin-dev] Time to worry about 80-bit collision attacks or not?

Adam Back adam at cypherspace.org
Thu Jan 7 19:19:42 UTC 2016

You could say 256 bit ECDSA is overkill lets go to 160 equivalently.
Saves even more bytes.

The problem with arguing down is where to stop.

As Matt said these things dont degrade gracefully so a best practice
is to aim for a bit of extra margin.

256-bit is quite common at this point since AES, SHA256 etc even in
things with much less at stake than Bitcoin.

You could send the compressed (unhashed) pubkey then there's no hash
(and omit it from the sig).  Greg had mentioned that in the past.

I think it might be possible to do both (reclaim the hash bits in the
serialisation of the pub key).


On 7 January 2016 at 20:02, Gavin Andresen via bitcoin-dev
<bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org> wrote:
> I'm hoisting this from some private feedback I sent on the segregated
> witness BIP:
> I said:
> "I'd also use RIPEMD160(SHA256()) as the hash function and save the 12
> bytes-- a successful preimage attack against that ain't gonna happen before
> we're all dead. I'm probably being dense, but I just don't see how a
> collision attack is relevant here."
> Pieter responded:
> "The problem case is where someone in a contract setup shows you a script,
> which you accept as being a payment to yourself. An attacker could use a
> collision attack to construct scripts with identical hashes, only one of
> which does have the property you want, and steal coins.
> So you really want collision security, and I don't think 80 bits is
> something we should encourage for that. Normal pubkey hashes don't have that
> problem, as they can't be constructed to pay to you."
> ... but I'm unconvinced:
> "But it is trivial for contract wallets to protect against collision
> attacks-- if you give me a script that is "gavin_pubkey CHECKSIG
> arbitrary_data OP_DROP" with "I promise I'm not trying to rip you off, just
> ignore that arbitrary data" a wallet can just refuse. Even more likely, a
> contract wallet won't even recognize that as a pay-to-gavin transaction.
> I suppose it could be looking for some form of "gavin_pubkey
> somebody_else_pubkey CHECKMULTISIG ... with the attacker using
> somebody_else_pubkey to force the collision, but, again, trivial contract
> protocol tweaks ("send along a proof you have the private key corresponding
> to the public key" or "everybody pre-commits pubkeys they'll use at protocol
> start") would protect against that.
> Adding an extra 12 bytes to every segwit to prevent an attack that takes
> 2^80 computation and 2^80 storage, is unlikely to be a problem in practice,
> and is trivial to protect against is the wrong tradeoff to make."
> 20 bytes instead of 32 bytes is a savings of almost 40%, which is
> significant.
> The general question I'd like to raise on this list is:
> Should we be worried, today, about collision attacks against RIPEMD160 (our
> 160-bit hash)?
> Mounting a successful brute-force collision attack would require at least
> O(2^80) CPU, which is kinda-sorta feasible (Pieter pointed out that Bitcoin
> POW has computed more SHA256 hashes than that). But it also requires O(2^80)
> storage, which is utterly infeasible (there is something on the order of
> 2^35 bytes of storage in the entire world).  Even assuming doubling every
> single year (faster than Moore's Law), we're four decades away from an
> attacker with THE ENTIRE WORLD's storage capacity being able to mount a
> collision attack.
> References:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collision_attack
> https://vsatglobalseriesblog.wordpress.com/2013/06/21/in-2013-the-amount-of-data-generated-worldwide-will-reach-four-zettabytes/
> --
> --
> Gavin Andresen
> _______________________________________________
> bitcoin-dev mailing list
> bitcoin-dev at lists.linuxfoundation.org
> https://lists.linuxfoundation.org/mailman/listinfo/bitcoin-dev

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