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Cryptanalysis and Types of Attacks

Last Updated : 06 Mar, 2023
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Cryptology has two parts namely, Cryptography which focuses on creating secret codes and Cryptanalysis which is the study of the cryptographic algorithm and the breaking of those secret codes. The person practicing Cryptanalysis is called a Cryptanalyst. It helps us to better understand the cryptosystems and also helps us improve the system by finding any weak point and thus work on the algorithm to create a more secure secret code. For example, a Cryptanalyst might try to decipher a ciphertext to derive the plaintext. It can help us to deduce the plaintext or the encryption key.

Parts Of Cryptology

To determine the weak points of a cryptographic system, it is important to attack the system. This attacks are called Cryptanalytic attacks. The attacks rely on nature of the algorithm and also knowledge of the general characteristics of the plaintext, i.e., plaintext can be a regular document written in English or it can be a code written in Java. Therefore, nature of the plaintext should be known before trying to use the attacks.

 Types of Cryptanalytic attacks :

The Five Types of Cryptanalytic Attacks

  • Known-Plaintext Analysis (KPA) : In this type of attack, some plaintext-ciphertext pairs are already known. Attacker maps them in order to find the encryption key. This attack is easier to use as a lot of information is already available.
  • Chosen-Plaintext Analysis (CPA) : In this type of attack, the attacker chooses random plaintexts and obtains the corresponding ciphertexts and tries to find the encryption key. Its very simple to implement like KPA but the success rate is quite low.
  • Ciphertext-Only Analysis (COA) : In this type of attack, only some cipher-text is known and the attacker tries to find the corresponding encryption key and plaintext. Its the hardest to implement but is the most probable attack as only ciphertext is required.
  • Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) attack : In this type of attack, attacker intercepts the message/key between two communicating parties through a secured channel.
  • Adaptive Chosen-Plaintext Analysis (ACPA) : This attack is similar CPA. Here, the attacker requests the cipher texts of additional plaintexts after they have ciphertexts for some texts.
  • Birthday attack: This attack exploits the probability of two or more individuals sharing the same birthday in a group of people. In cryptography, this attack is used to find collisions in a hash function.
  • Side-channel attack: This type of attack is based on information obtained from the physical implementation of the cryptographic system, rather than on weaknesses in the algorithm itself. Side-channel attacks include timing attacks, power analysis attacks, electromagnetic attacks, and others.
  • Brute-force attack: This attack involves trying every possible key until the correct one is found. While this attack is simple to implement, it can be time-consuming and computationally expensive, especially for longer keys.
  • Differential cryptanalysis: This type of attack involves comparing pairs of plaintexts and their corresponding ciphertexts to find patterns in the encryption algorithm. It can be effective against block ciphers with certain properties.

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