We demonstrate how adversaries with large computing resources can break quantum key distribution (QKD) protocols which employ a particular message authentication code suggested previously. This authentication code, featuring low key consumption, is not information-theoretically secure (ITS) since for each message the eavesdropper has intercepted she is able to send a different message from a set of messages that she can calculate by finding collisions of a cryptographic hash function. However, when this authentication code was introduced, it was shown to prevent straightforward man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks against QKD protocols. In this paper, we prove that the set of messages that collide with any given message under this authentication code contains with high probability a message that has small Hamming distance to any other given message. Based on this fact, we present extended MITM attacks against different versions of BB84 QKD protocols using the addressed authentication code; for three protocols, we describe every single action taken by the adversary. For all protocols, the adversary can obtain complete knowledge of the key, and for most protocols her success probability in doing so approaches unity. Since the attacks work against all authentication methods which allow to calculate colliding messages, the underlying building blocks of the presented attacks expose the potential pitfalls arising as a consequence of non-ITS authentication in QKD post-processing. We propose countermeasures, increasing the eavesdroppers demand for computational power, and also prove necessary and sufficient conditions for upgrading the discussed authentication code to the ITS level.
Quantum Information Processing – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 13, 2015
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