[bitcoin-dev] BIP 340 updates: even pubkeys, more secure nonce generation

Pieter Wuille pieter.wuille at gmail.com
Mon Feb 24 04:26:17 UTC 2020

Hello list,

Despite saying earlier that I expected no further semantical changes
to BIP 340-342, I've just opened
https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/pull/893 to make a number of small
changes that I believe are still worth making.

1. Even public keys

Only one change affects the validation rules: the Y coordinate of
32-byte public keys is changed from implicitly square to implicitly
even. This makes signing slightly faster (in the microsecond range),
though also verification negligibly slower (in the nanosecond range).
It also simplifies integration with existing key generation
infrastructure. For example BIP32 produces public keys with known
even/oddness, but squaredness would need to be computed separately.
Similar arguments hold for PSBT and probably many other things.

Note that the Y coordinate of the internal R point in the signature
remains implicitly square: for R the squaredness gives an actual
performance gain at validation time, but this is not true for public
keys. Conversely, for public keys integration with existing
infrastructure matters, but R points are purely internal.

This affects BIP 340 and 341.

2. Nonce generation

All other semantical changes are around more secure nonce generation
in BIP 340, dealing with various failure cases:

* Since the public key signed for is included in the signature
challenge hash, implementers will likely be eager to use precomputed
values for these (otherwise an additional EC multiplication is
necessary at signing time). If that public key data happens to be
gathered from untrusted sources, it can lead to trivial leakage of the
private key - something that Greg Maxwell started a discussion about
on the moderncrypto curves list:
https://moderncrypto.org/mail-archive/curves/2020/001012.html. We
believe it should therefore be best practice to include the public key
also in the nonce generation, which largely mitigates this problem.

* To protect against fault injection attacks it is recommended to
include actual signing-time randomness into the nonce generation
process. This was mentioned already, but the update elaborates much
more about this, and integrates this randomness into the standard
signing process.

* To protect against differential power analysis, a different way of
mixing in this randomness is used (masking the private key completely
with randomness before continuing, rather than hashing them together,
which is known in the literature to be vulnerable to DPA in some

3. New tagged hash tags

To make sure that any code written for the earlier BIP text fails
consistently, the tags used in the tagged hashes in BIP 340 are
changed as well.

What do people think?


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