ONC+ Developer's Guide

Diffie-Hellman Encryption

In this scheme are two constants, PROOT and HEXMODULUS. The particular values chosen for these constants for the DES authentication protocol are:

const PROOT = 3;
const HEXMODULUS =	/* hex */

The way this scheme works is best explained by an example. Suppose there are two people, A and B, who want to send encrypted messages to each other. A and B each generate a random secret key that they do not disclose to anyone. Let these keys be represented as SK(A) and SK(B). They also publish in a public directory their public keys. These keys are computed as follows:


The ** notation is used here to represent exponentiation.

Now, both A and B can arrive at the common key between them, represented here as CK(A,B), without disclosing their secret keys.

A computes:

CK(A, B) = (PK(B) ** SK(A)) mod HEXMODULUS

while B computes:

CK(A, B) = (PK(A) ** SK(B)) mod HEXMODULUS

These two computations can be shown to be equivalent: (PK(B)**SK(A)) mod HEXMODULUS = (PK(A)**SK(B)) mod HEXMODULUS. Drop the mod HEXMODULUS parts and assume modulo arithmetic to simplify the process:

PK(B) ** SK(A) = PK(A) ** SK(B)

Then replace PK(B) by what B computed earlier and likewise for PK(A).

((PROOT ** SK(B)) ** SK(A) = (PROOT ** SK(A)) ** SK(B)

which leads to:

PROOT ** (SK(A) * SK(B)) = PROOT ** (SK(A) * SK(B))

This common key CK(A,B) is not used to encrypt the timestamps used in the protocol. It is used only to encrypt a conversation key that is then used to encrypt the timestamps. This approach uses the common key as little as possible, to prevent a break. Breaking the conversation key is a far less serious compromise, because conversations are comparatively short lived.

The conversation key is encrypted using 56-bit DES keys, yet the common key is 192 bits. To reduce the number of bits, 56 bits are selected from the common key as follows. The middle-most 8 bytes are selected from the common key, and then parity is added to the lower-order bit of each byte, producing a 56-bit key with 8 bits of parity.