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ElGamal Encryption Algorithm

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ElGamal encryption is a public-key cryptosystem. It uses asymmetric key encryption for communicating between two parties and encrypting the message. This cryptosystem is based on the difficulty of finding discrete logarithm in a cyclic group that is even if we know ga and gk, it is extremely difficult to compute gak.

Idea of ElGamal cryptosystem: 

Suppose Alice wants to communicate with Bob.  

  1. Bob generates public and private keys: 
    • Bob chooses a very large number q and a cyclic group Fq.
    • From the cyclic group Fq, he choose any element g and
      an element a such that gcd(a, q) = 1.
    • Then he computes h = ga.
    • Bob publishes F, h = ga, q, and g as his public key and retains a as private key.
  2. Alice encrypts data using Bob’s public key : 
    • Alice selects an element k from cyclic group F 
      such that gcd(k, q) = 1.
    • Then she computes p = gk and s = hk = gak.
    • She multiples s with M.
    • Then she sends (p, M*s) = (gk, M*s).
  3. Bob decrypts the message : 
    • Bob calculates s = pa = gak.
    • He divides M*s by s to obtain M as s = s.

Following is the implementation of the ElGamal cryptosystem in Python 


# Python program to illustrate ElGamal encryption
import random
from math import pow
a = random.randint(2, 10)
def gcd(a, b):
    if a < b:
        return gcd(b, a)
    elif a % b == 0:
        return b;
        return gcd(b, a % b)
# Generating large random numbers
def gen_key(q):
    key = random.randint(pow(10, 20), q)
    while gcd(q, key) != 1:
        key = random.randint(pow(10, 20), q)
    return key
# Modular exponentiation
def power(a, b, c):
    x = 1
    y = a
    while b > 0:
        if b % 2 != 0:
            x = (x * y) % c;
        y = (y * y) % c
        b = int(b / 2)
    return x % c
# Asymmetric encryption
def encrypt(msg, q, h, g):
    en_msg = []
    k = gen_key(q)# Private key for sender
    s = power(h, k, q)
    p = power(g, k, q)
    for i in range(0, len(msg)):
    print("g^k used : ", p)
    print("g^ak used : ", s)
    for i in range(0, len(en_msg)):
        en_msg[i] = s * ord(en_msg[i])
    return en_msg, p
def decrypt(en_msg, p, key, q):
    dr_msg = []
    h = power(p, key, q)
    for i in range(0, len(en_msg)):
    return dr_msg
# Driver code
def main():
    msg = 'encryption'
    print("Original Message :", msg)
    q = random.randint(pow(10, 20), pow(10, 50))
    g = random.randint(2, q)
    key = gen_key(q)# Private key for receiver
    h = power(g, key, q)
    print("g used : ", g)
    print("g^a used : ", h)
    en_msg, p = encrypt(msg, q, h, g)
    dr_msg = decrypt(en_msg, p, key, q)
    dmsg = ''.join(dr_msg)
    print("Decrypted Message :", dmsg);
if __name__ == '__main__':

Sample Output:

Original Message : encryption
g used :  5860696954522417707188952371547944035333315907890
g^a used :  4711309755639364289552454834506215144653958055252
g^k used :  12475188089503227615789015740709091911412567126782
g^ak used :  39448787632167136161153337226654906357756740068295
Decrypted Message : encryption

In this cryptosystem, the original message M is masked by multiplying gak to it. To remove the mask, a clue is given in form of gk. Unless someone knows a, he will not be able to retrieve M. This is because finding discrete log in a cyclic group is difficult and simplifying knowing ga and gk is not good enough to compute gak.


  • Security: ElGamal is based on the discrete logarithm problem, which is considered to be a hard problem to solve. This makes it secure against attacks from hackers.
  • Key distribution: The encryption and decryption keys are different, making it easier to distribute keys securely. This allows for secure communication between multiple parties.
  • Digital signatures: ElGamal can also be used for digital signatures, which allows for secure authentication of messages.


  • Slow processing: ElGamal is slower compared to other encryption algorithms, especially when used with long keys. This can make it impractical for certain applications that require fast processing speeds.
  • Key size: ElGamal requires larger key sizes to achieve the same level of security as other algorithms. This can make it more difficult to use in some applications.
  • Vulnerability to certain attacks: ElGamal is vulnerable to attacks based on the discrete logarithm problem, such as the index calculus algorithm. This can reduce the security of the algorithm in certain situations.

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Last Updated : 22 Mar, 2023
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