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Re: Senator Diane Feinstein Wants to know about the Benefits of P2P

  • From: Crist Clark
  • Date: Mon Aug 30 18:22:12 2004

Gregory Hicks wrote:

Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004 16:39:56 -0400
From: Mike Tancsa <>

At 04:12 PM 30/08/2004, Dan Hollis wrote:

yep md5 made the news recently because it's been cracked:
Thats a misleading over simplification. A collision being found implies something different than "its cracked." A weakness that was theorized sometime ago has been demonstrated in practice. Finding collisions and altering files in a useful way to produce a duplicate hash are different things. There are FAR bigger security concerns than this one right now IMHO.

I recall even seeing posts about people claiming this meant original data being reconstructed from the checksum! That would be truly amazing since I could reconstruct a 680MB ISO from just 61d38fad42b4037970338636b5e72e5a. Wow!

The "collision" problem discovered means that there might be MULTIPLE 680MB files that give the same checksum.
There MUST BE multiple 680 MB files that give the same checksum. A
checksum is a many-to-one operation. If MD5 were a "perfect" checksum,
it would map each and every 128-bit strings to another 128-bit string.
However, for an 129-bit string, you have twice as many initial strings,
but still just 128-bits of hash values. If the checksum is perfectly
distributed, each 128-bit hash would have to correspond to _two_ initial

If you think about it for a second, if you have an initial bit string
of length 'n' and a hash of length 'm,' the number of collisions for a
perfectly distributed checksum (the number of initial strings that
produce the same hash) is,

	2^(n - m)

Now, a 680 MB file is about a 5704253440-bit string. That would imply
there are about 2^5704253312 strings that correspond to that one hash.
Good luck generating _one_ of those. And extra good luck in finding
the ones of the 2^5704253312 that comply with ISO 9660. And a tad
more good luck in finding the ones in there that might make sense
being the particular ISO image you want.

The issue with MD5 is that there may be techniques for an attacker to
generate collisions (and again, there MUST BE collisions) using many
fewer operations than a brute force approach. The brute force approach
has always existed. There is no perfectly secure crypto, only crypto
that is "secure enough for this application for now." MD5 is still
safe enough for most applications for now (hell, DES is safe enough
for most applications for now). However, it should be looked at as
depricated and phased out, i.e. not used in new protocols and products.
The Death of the Internet has not been predicted. There will be no
film at eleven.
Crist J. Clark                     
Globalstar Communications                                (408) 933-4387

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