david wong

Hey ! I'm David, a security consultant at Cryptography Services, the crypto team of NCC Group . This is my blog about cryptography and security and other related topics that I find interesting.

About Sweet32 November 2016

I've been thinking a lot about sweet32 recently. And I decided to try to reproduce their results.

First let me tell you that the attack is highly impractical. It requires the user to execute some untrusted javascript for dozens of hours without interruption. The other problem that I encountered was that I couldn't reach the amount of requests they were able to make a client send. In their paper, they claim to be able to reach up to 2,000 requests per second.

I tried to achieve such good numbers with "normal" browsers, and the amount of requests I was able to make was ridiculously low. Then I realized that they used a specific browser: Firefox Developer Edition. A browser made for developing websites. For some unknown reason, it was true that this specific browser was able to send an impressive amount of requests per second. Although I was never able to reach that magical number of 2,000. And even then, who really uses Firefox Developer Edition?

It should be noted that their attack was done in a lab, with a small distance between the client and the server, under perfect condition, when no other traffic was slowing down the attack, etc... I can't imagine this attack being practical at all in real settings.

Note that I can imagine different settings than TLS, at a different point in time in the future, being able to send enough requests per second that this attack would be deemed practical. And in that sense, Sweet32 should be taken seriously. But for now, and especially in the case of TLS, I wouldn't freak out if I see a 64-bit block cipher being used.

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I love you, David :)