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Open AccessArticle

A Comprehensive Study of the Key Enumeration Problem

Computer Science Department, Universidad del Norte, Barranquilla 080001, Colombia
Entropy 2019, 21(10), 972;
Received: 14 August 2019 / Revised: 1 September 2019 / Accepted: 10 September 2019 / Published: 5 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Blockchain: Security, Challenges, and Opportunities)
In this paper, we will study the key enumeration problem, which is connected to the key recovery problem posed in the cold boot attack setting. In this setting, an attacker with physical access to a computer may obtain noisy data of a cryptographic secret key of a cryptographic scheme from main memory via this data remanence attack. Therefore, the attacker would need a key-recovery algorithm to reconstruct the secret key from its noisy version. We will first describe this attack setting and then pose the problem of key recovery in a general way and establish a connection between the key recovery problem and the key enumeration problem. The latter problem has already been studied in the side-channel attack literature, where, for example, the attacker might procure scoring information for each byte of an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) key from a side-channel attack and then want to efficiently enumerate and test a large number of complete 16-byte candidates until the correct key is found. After establishing such a connection between the key recovery problem and the key enumeration problem, we will present a comprehensive review of the most outstanding key enumeration algorithms to tackle the latter problem, for example, an optimal key enumeration algorithm (OKEA) and several nonoptimal key enumeration algorithms. Also, we will propose variants to some of them and make a comparison of them, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. View Full-Text
Keywords: cold boot attacks; key recovery; enumeration; algorithms cold boot attacks; key recovery; enumeration; algorithms
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Villanueva-Polanco, R. A Comprehensive Study of the Key Enumeration Problem. Entropy 2019, 21, 972.

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