Package Crypto :: Package Protocol :: Module Chaffing
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Module Chaffing

This file implements the chaffing algorithm.

Winnowing and chaffing is a technique for enhancing privacy without requiring strong encryption. In short, the technique takes a set of authenticated message blocks (the wheat) and adds a number of chaff blocks which have randomly chosen data and MAC fields. This means that to an adversary, the chaff blocks look as valid as the wheat blocks, and so the authentication would have to be performed on every block. By tailoring the number of chaff blocks added to the message, the sender can make breaking the message computationally infeasible. There are many other interesting properties of the winnow/chaff technique.

For example, say Alice is sending a message to Bob. She packetizes the message and performs an all-or-nothing transformation on the packets. Then she authenticates each packet with a message authentication code (MAC). The MAC is a hash of the data packet, and there is a secret key which she must share with Bob (key distribution is an exercise left to the reader). She then adds a serial number to each packet, and sends the packets to Bob.

Bob receives the packets, and using the shared secret authentication key, authenticates the MACs for each packet. Those packets that have bad MACs are simply discarded. The remainder are sorted by serial number, and passed through the reverse all-or-nothing transform. The transform means that an eavesdropper (say Eve) must acquire all the packets before any of the data can be read. If even one packet is missing, the data is useless.

There's one twist: by adding chaff packets, Alice and Bob can make Eve's job much harder, since Eve now has to break the shared secret key, or try every combination of wheat and chaff packet to read any of the message. The cool thing is that Bob doesn't need to add any additional code; the chaff packets are already filtered out because their MACs don't match (in all likelihood -- since the data and MACs for the chaff packets are randomly chosen it is possible, but very unlikely that a chaff MAC will match the chaff data). And Alice need not even be the party adding the chaff! She could be completely unaware that a third party, say Charles, is adding chaff packets to her messages as they are transmitted.

For more information on winnowing and chaffing see this paper:

Ronald L. Rivest, "Chaffing and Winnowing: Confidentiality without Encryption"

Class implementing the chaff adding algorithm.
  __revision__ = '$Id$'
  __package__ = 'Crypto.Protocol'