Scribed by Matt Finifter
Summary
Today we begin to talk about publickey cryptography, starting from publickey encryption.
We define the publickey analog of the weakest form of security we studied in the privatekey setting: messageindistinguishability for one encryption. Because of the publickey setting, in which everybody, including the adversary, has the ability to encrypt messages, this is already equivalent to CPA security.
We then describe the El Gamal cryptosystem, which is messageindistinguishable (and hence CPAsecure) under the plausible Decision DiffieHellman assumption.
1. PublicKey Cryptography
So far, we have studied the setting in which two parties, Alice and Bob, share a secret key and use it to communicate securely over an unreliable channel. In many cases, it is not difficult for the two parties to create and share the secret key; for example, when we connect a laptop to a wireless router, we can enter the same password both into the router and into the laptop, and, before we begin to do online banking, our bank can send us a password in the physical mail, and so on.
In many other situations, however, the insecure channel is the only communication device available to the parties, so it is not possible to share a secret key in advance. A general problem of privatekey cryptography is also that, in a large network, the number of required secret keys grows with the square of the size of the network.
In publickey cryptography, every party generates two keys: a secret key and a public key . The secret key is known only to the party who generated it, while the public key is known to everybody.
(For publickey cryptosystems to work, it is important that everybody is aware of, or has secure access to, everybody else’s public key. A mechanism for the secure exchange of public keys is called a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI). In a network model in which adversaries are passive, meaning that they only eavesdrop on communication, the parties can just send each other’s public keys over the network. In a network that has active adversaries, who can inject their own packets and drop other users’ packets, creating a publickey infrastructure is a very difficult problem, to which we may return when we talk about network protocols. For now we assume that either the adversary is passive or that a PKI is in place.)
As in the privatekey setting, we will be concerned with two problems: privacy, that is the communication of data so that an eavesdropper can gain no information about it, and authentication, which guarantees to the recipient the identity of the sender. The first task is solved by publickey encryption and the second task is solved by signature schemes.
2. Public Key Encryption
A publickey encryption scheme is defined by three efficient algorithms such that
 takes no input and outputs a pair of keys
 , on input a public key and a plaintext message outputs a ciphertext .
(Typically, is a probabilistic procedure.)
 , on input a secret key and ciphertext , decodes . We require that for every message
A basic definition of security is messageindistinguishability for one encryption.
Definition 1 We say that a publickey encryption scheme is messageindistinguishable if for every algorithm of complexity and for every two messages ,
(From now on, we will not explicitly state the dependance of probabilities on the internal coin tosses of , although it should always be assumed.)
Exercise 1 Formalize the notion of CPAsecurity for publickey encryption. Show that if is message indistinguishable, and is computable in time , then is also CPAsecure.
3. The Decision DiffieHellman Assumption
Fix a prime and consider the group , which consists of the elements in the set , along with the operator of multiplication mod . This is a group because it includes 1, the operation is associative and commutative, and every element in has a multiplicative inverse if is prime.
It is a theorem which we will not prove that is a cyclic group, that is, there exists a such that is the set of all elements in the group. That is, each power of generates a different element in the group, and all elements are generated. We call a generator.
Now, pick a prime , and assume we have a generator of . Consider the function that maps an element to . This function is a bijection, and its inverse is called the discrete log. That is, given , there is a unique such that . is the discrete logarithm of .
It is believed that the discrete log problem is hard to solve. No one knows how to compute it efficiently (without a quantum algorithm). is but one family of groups for which the above discussion applies. In fact, our discussion generalizes to any cyclic group. Since the points on the elliptic curve (along with the addition operator) form a cyclic group, this generalization also captures elliptic curve cryptography.
While computing the discrete log is believed to be hard, modular exponentiation is efficient in using binary exponentiation, even when is very large. In fact, in any group for which multiplication is efficient, exponentiation is also efficient, because binary exponentiation uses only multiplications.
For the construction of the publickey cryptosystem that we will present, we will actually need an assumption slightly stronger than the assumption of the hardness of the discrete log problem. (As we shall see in a later class, this assumption is false for , but it is believed to be true in other related groups.)
Definition 2 (Decision DiffieHellman Assumption) A distribution over triples , where is a cyclic group of elements and is a generator, satisfies the Decision DiffieHellman Assumption if for every algorithm of complexity we have
Note that the El Gamal assumption may be plausibly satisfied even by a fixed group and a fixed generator .
4. El Gamal Encryption
The El Gamal encryption scheme works as follows. Let be a distribution over that satisfies the Decision DiffieHellman assumption:
 samples , and picks a random number .
 :
 pick at random
 output

 Compute
 Find the multiplicative inverse of
 output
The decryption algorithm works as follows. is (as returned by ), so . , as returned by , is , where is . This means that . We see that , which is why multiplying by correctly yields .
Theorem 3 Suppose is a distribution that satisfies the Decision DiffieHellman assumption and that it is possible to perform multiplication in time in the groups occurring in .
Then the El Gamal cryptosystem is messageindistinguishable.
Proof: Let be an algorithm of complexity and fix any two messages . We want to prove
(From now, we shall not write the dependency on .)
We utilize a variant of the encryption algorithm that uses a random group element (instead of ) as the multiplier for .\footnote{This would not actually function as an encryption algorithm, but we can still consider it, as the construction is welldefined.}
Each of the expressions in (2) and (4) is due to the Decision DiffieHellman Assumption. There is an extra factor of or , respectively, but the D.D.H. still holds in this case. Informally, multiplying a group element that looks random by a fixed element yields another randomlooking element. We can formalize this as follows:
We claim that if satisfies the Decision DiffieHellman Assumption, and is an upper bound to the time it takes to compute products in , then for all group elements and for all algorithms of complexity
To prove this claim, suppose to the contrary that there exists an algorithm of complexity and a group element such that the above difference is .
Let be an algorithm that on input outputs . Then has complexity and
which contradicts the Decision DiffieHellman Assumption.
Next, we consider (3). This is an instance of “perfect security,” since distinguishing between and requires distinguishing two completely random elements. (Again, we use the fact that multiplying a random element by a fixed element yields a random element.) Thus, the expression in line (3) is equal to 0.
This means that (1) is at most .
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