Computing MAC in 2PC

  1. What is a MAC
  2. How a MAC is computed in AES-GCM
  3. Computing MAC using secure two-party computation (2PC)

1. What is a MAC

When sending an encrypted ciphertext to the Webserver, the User attaches a checksum to it. The Webserver uses this checksum to check whether the ciphertext has been tampered with while in transit. This checksum is known as the "authentication tag" and also as the "Message Authentication Code" (MAC).

In order to create a MAC for some ciphertext not only the ciphertext but also some secret key is used as an input. This makes it impossible to forge some ciphertext without knowing the secret key.

The first few paragraphs of this article explain what would happen if there was no MAC: it would be possible for a malicious actor to modify the plaintext by flipping certain bits of the ciphertext.

2. How a MAC is computed in AES-GCM

In TLS the plaintext is split up into chunks called "TLS records". Each TLS record is encrypted and a MAC is computed for the ciphertext. The MAC (in AES-GCM) is obtained by XORing together the GHASH output and the GCTR output. Let's see how each of those outputs is computed:

2.1 GCTR output

The GCTR output is computed by simply AES-ECB encrypting a counter block with the counter set to 1 (the iv, nonce and AES key are the same as for the rest of the TLS record).

2.2 GHASH output

The GHASH output is the output of the GHASH function described in the NIST publication in section 6.4 in this way: "In effect, the GHASH function calculates ". and are elements of the extension field .

  • "•" is a special type of multiplication called multiplication in a finite field described in section 6.3 of the NIST publication.
  • ⊕ is addition in a finite field and it is defined as XOR.

In other words, GHASH splits up the ciphertext into 16-byte blocks, each block is numbered etc. There's also which is called the GHASH key, which just is the AES-encrypted zero-block. We need to raise to as many powers as there are blocks, i.e. if we have 5 blocks then we need 5 powers: . Each block is multiplied by the corresponding power and all products are summed together.

Below is the pseudocode for multiplying two 128-bit field elements x and y in :

1. result = 0
2. R = 0xE1000000000000000000000000000000
3. bit_length = 128
4. for i=0 upto bit_length-1
5.    if y[i] == 1
6.       result ^= x
7. x = (x >> 1) ^ ((x & 1) * R)
8. return result

Standard math properties hold in finite field math, viz. commutative: and distributive: .

3. Computing MAC using secure two-party computation (2PC)

The goal of the protocol is to compute the MAC in such a way that neither party would learn the other party's share of i.e. the GHASH key share. At the start of the protocol each party has:

  1. ciphertext blocks .
  2. XOR share of : the User has and the Notary has .
  3. XOR share of the GCTR output: the User has and the Notary has .

Note that 2. and 3. were obtained at an earlier stage of the TLSNotary protocol.

3.1 Example with a single ciphertext block

To illustrate what we want to achieve, we consider the case of just having a single ciphertext block . The GHASH_output will be:

The User and the Notary will compute locally the left and the right terms respectively. Then each party will XOR their result to the GCTR output share and will get their XOR share of the MAC:

User :


Finally, the Notary sends to the User who obtains:

For longer ciphertexts, the problem is that higher powers of the hashkey cannot be computed locally, because we deal with additive sharings, i.e..

3.2 Computing ciphertexts with an arbitrary number of blocks

We now introduce our 2PC MAC protocol for computing ciphertexts with an arbitrary number of blocks. Our protocol can be divided into the following steps.

  1. First, both parties convert their additive shares and into multiplicative shares and .
  2. This allows each party to locally compute the needed higher powers of these multiplicative shares, i.e for blocks of ciphertext:
    • the user computes
    • the notary computes
  3. Then both parties convert each of these multiplicative shares back to additive shares
    • the user ends up with
    • the notary ends up with
  4. Each party can now locally compute their additive MAC share .

The conversion steps (1 and 3) require communication between the user and the notary. They will use A2M (Addition-to-Multiplication) and M2A (Multiplication-to-Addition) protocols, which make use of oblivious transfer, to convert the shares. The user will be the sender and the notary the receiver.

2PC MAC Overview

3.2.1 (A2M) Convert additive shares of H into multiplicative share

At first (step 1) we have to get a multiplicative share of , so that notary and user can locally compute the needed higher powers. For this we use an adapted version of the A2M protocol in chapter 4 of Efficient Secure Two-Party Exponentiation.

The user will decompose his share into individual oblivious transfers , where

  • is some random value used for all oblivious transfers
  • is a random mask used per oblivious transfer, with
  • depending on the receiver's choice.

The notary's choice in the i-th OT will depend on the bit value in the i-th position of his additive share . In the end the multiplicative share of the user will simply be the inverse of the random value, and the notary will sum all his OT outputs, so that all the will vanish and hence he gets his multiplicative share .

3.2.2 (M2A) Convert multiplicative shares into additive shares

In step 3 of our protocol, we use the oblivious transfer method described in chapter 4.1 of the Gilboa paper Two Party RSA Key Generation to convert all the multiplicative shares back into additive shares . We only show how the method works for the share , because it is the same for higher powers.

The user will be the OT sender and decompose his shares into individual oblivious transfers , where , depending on the receiver's choices. Each of these OTs is masked with a random value . He will then obliviously send them to the notary. Depending on the binary representation of his multiplicative share, the notary will choose one of the choices and do this for all 128 oblivious transfers.

After that the user will locally XOR all his and end up with his additive share , and the notary will do the same for all the results of the oblivious transfers and get .

3.3 Free Squaring

In the actual implementation of the protocol we only compute odd multiplicative shares, i.e. , so that we only need to share these odd shares in step 3. This is possible because we can compute even additive shares from odd additive shares. We observe that for even :

So we only need to convert odd multiplicative shares into odd additive shares, which gives us a 50% reduction in cost. The remaining even additive shares can then be computed locally.

3.3 Creating a robust protocol

Both the A2M and M2A protocols on their own only provide semi-honest security. They are secure against a malicious receiver, but the sender has degrees of freedom to cause leakage of the MAC keyshares. However, for our purposes this does not present a problem as long as leakage is detected.

To detect a malicious sender, we require the sender to commit to the PRG seed used to generate the random values in the share conversion protocols. After the TLS session is closed the MAC keyshares are no longer secret, which allows the sender to reveal this seed to the receiver. Subsequently, the receiver can perform a consistency check to make sure the sender followed the protocol honestly.

3.3.1 Malicious notary

The protocol is secure against a malicious notary, because he is the OT receiver, which means that there is actually no input from him during the protocol execution except for the final MAC output. He just receives the OT input from the user, so the only thing he can do is to provide a wrong MAC keyshare. This will cause the server to reject the MAC when the user sends the request. The protocol simply aborts.

3.3.2 Malicious user

A malicious user could actually manipulate what he sends in the OT and potentially endanger the security of the protocol by leaking the notary's MAC key. To address this we force the user to reveal his MAC key after the server response so that the notary can check for the correctness of the whole MAC 2PC protocol. Then if the notary detects that the user cheated, he would simply abort the protocol.

The only problem when doing this is, that we want the whole TLSNotary protocol to work under the assumption that the notary can intercept the traffic between the user and the server. This would allow the notary to trick the user into thinking that the TLS session is already terminated, if he can force the server to respond. The user would send his MAC key share too early and the notary could, now having the complete MAC key, forge the ciphertext and create a valid MAC for it. He would then send this forged request to the server and forward the response of the server to the user.

To prevent this scenario we need to make sure that the TLS connection to the server is terminated before the user sends his MAC key share to the notary. Following the TLS RFC, we leverage close_notify to ensure all messages sent to the server have been processed and the connection is closed. Unfortunately, many server TLS implementations do not support close_notify. In these cases we instead send an invalid message to the server which forces it to respond with a fatal alert message and close the connection.