Re: [Lwip] Iotdir early review of draft-ietf-lwig-curve-representations-08

Rene Struik <> Fri, 25 October 2019 20:26 UTC

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To: Daniel Migault <>,
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From: Rene Struik <>
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Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2019 16:26:13 -0400
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Subject: Re: [Lwip] Iotdir early review of draft-ietf-lwig-curve-representations-08
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Hi Daniel:

Thanks very much for your constructive review.

I provided brief feedback on some of your comments - see below (RS>> 
<<RS). Where I did not provide a comment yet, I will reflect on these 
later (and this may benefit from looking at the results from the pending 
SecDir review, once ready, at the same time).

Best regards, Rene

On 10/25/2019 2:38 PM, Daniel Migault via Datatracker wrote:
> Reviewer: Daniel Migault
> Review result: Almost Ready
> Hi,
> I have reviewed this document as part of the IoT directorate's
> ongoing effort to review all IETF documents being processed by the
> IESG.  These comments were written primarily for the benefit of the
> internet area directors.  Document editors and WG chairs should treat
> these comments just like any other last call comments.
> The summary of the review is Almost Ready
> Overall I believe the document is well written with a lot of useful
> information. Though I have not carefully reviewed the annexes, I believe the
> document could be re-organized to  provide more implementation details of
> Wei25519 and its potentially the implementation of the isogeny between
> Wei25519.-3 and Wei25519. Note that the latest point may depend on the
> implementation status of NIST curves.
> Please find my review, which I hope will help to move the document to be moved
> forward.
> Yours,
> Daniel
> Abstract
>     This document specifies how to represent Montgomery curves and
>     (twisted) Edwards curves as curves in short-Weierstrass form and
>     illustrates how this can be used to carry out elliptic curve
>     computations using existing implementations of, e.g., ECDSA and ECDH
>     using NIST prime curves.
> <mglt>
> Overall I have the impression the document's intent is to define Wei25519 for
> COSE. The current document is very well documented and nicely written on the
> generic methodology used, that is using the Weierstrass models of curves using
> other models that is in our case twisted-Edward/Montgomery curves. My reading
> of the document is that it might benefit by being re-focused on Wei25519 and
> provide the necessary details in the main body - that is not the annex to
> implement: * Wei25519 - the domains parameters * the isogeny between
> Wei25519.-3 and Wei25519 - as this is necessary for reusing NIST curve
> implementation when a hard coded. That said, this depends on the implementation
> status of NIST curves and may be left in the annex.
> Specification is sufficient to assign code points which is sufficient with an
> Informational status.
> I would even have Wei25519 in the title. In my opinion the title is too generic
> and the scope should be narrow down a bit. </mglt>
> <mglt>
> The document introduces some notations, I believe these notations should be
> specified, and maybe use the same notation as RFC7748, if possible to avoid
> that we have one notation per document. </mglt>

RS>> Elliptic-curve and Finite Field-related notation is introduced in 
Annex B, 

This notation is well-aligned with conventions in ANSI, NIST, SECG, and 
BSI specifications. It is also in line with RFC 6090.


> 1.  Fostering Code Reuse with New Elliptic Curves
>     It is well-known that elliptic curves can be represented using
>     different curve models.
> <mglt>
> nits: It might be preferred to remain factual and simply say "Elliptic curves
> can be represented using different models." </mglt>
>     Recently, IETF standardized elliptic curves
>     that are claimed to have better performance and improved robustness
>     against "real world" attacks than curves represented in the
>     traditional "short" Weierstrass model.
> <mglt>
> Not being a native english speaker, the sentence above may lead the reader to
> think that Weierstrass representation is one reason for less robustness and
> performance. If that were the case, the reader may wonder why do we want to
> move to that representation.
> I believe that before Montgomery or Edwards curves have been introduced curves
> with Weierstrass model were widely deployed and implemented. </mglt>

RS>>  The reason to use the word "claimed" is that, from my perspective, 
it is unclear that the claim actually holds. {My opinion on the matter 
is irrelevant for this document, though.}

As to performance, this depends on implementation details, see, e.g., 
remarks on existing hardware implementations (see the forelast para of 
As to robustness, see the second para of 
As to different perspectives on performance vs. robustness, see also 
Item 1.3b of p. 77 of 

To my knowledge, Weierstrass curves, such as the NIST prime curves are 
still very much prevalent to-date (so "were widely deployed" is probably 
something that actually still is).


>     This document specifies an
>     alternative representation of points of Curve25519, a so-called
>     Montgomery curve, and of points of Edwards25519, a so-called twisted
>     Edwards curve, which are both specified in [RFC7748], as points of a
>     specific so-called "short" Weierstrass curve, called Wei25519.  We
>     also define how to efficiently switch between these different
>     representations.
> <mglt>
> I understand the switch can be performed in two ways, it might help the reader
> to distinguish two scenario one with a being a parameter and one with a being
> hard coded.
> We may also briefly expose why Curve25519 cannot be "proxied" by Ed-to-Wei
> followed by Wei25519. In which case Wei25519 would be an implementation detail.
> This would justify the need to add code points for Wei25519. </mglt>
>     Use of Wei25519 allows easy definition of new signature schemes and
>     key agreement schemes already specified for traditional NIST prime
>     curves, thereby allowing easy integration with existing
>     specifications, such as NIST SP 800-56a [SP-800-56a], FIPS Pub 186-4
>     [FIPS-186-4], and ANSI X9.62-2005 [ANSI-X9.62], and fostering code
>     reuse on platforms that already implement some of these schemes using
>     elliptic curve arithmetic for curves in "short" Weierstrass form (see
>     Appendix C.1).
> <mglt>
> Not being a cryptographer at all. I am wondering if the definition of "new"
> signature scheme is correct. At least it sounds a dangerous slope. I think the
> text wants to say it allows to re-use signature scheme defines for the NIST
> curves using another curves Wei25519, namely ECDSA in our case. </mglt>
RS>> New refers to a new instantiation, e.g., ECDSA with the Wei25519 
curve simply defines a new curve to be used with an existing generically 
specified ECDSA specification. <<RS
> 2.  Specification of Wei25519
>     For the specification of Wei25519 and its relationship to Curve25519
>     and Edwards25519, see Appendix E.
> <mglt>
> If we are defining Wei25519, it seems that at least the definition of Wei25519
> needs to be part of the main draft. A deep explanation as well as other
> information may be left in the annexe. I would thus probably recommend to add
> the necessary domain parameters that are needed to instantiate Wei25519. </mglt>
>     For further details and background
>     information on elliptic curves, we refer to the other appendices.
>     The use of Wei25519 allows reuse of existing generic code that
>     implements short-Weierstrass curves, such as the NIST curve P-256, to
>     also implement the CFRG curves Curve25519 and Edwards25519.  We also
>     cater to reusing of existing code where some domain parameters may
>     have been hardcoded, thereby widening the scope of applicability.  To
>     this end, we specify the short-Weierstrass curves Wei25519.2 and
>     Wei25519.-3, with hardcoded domain parameter a=2 and a=-3 (mod p),
>     respectively; see Appendix G.  (Here, p is the characteristic of the
>     field over which these curves are defined.)
> <mglt>
> The text needs here a bit more more explanations. As I understood, we are not
> simply changing the representation but also considering the constraint of the
> NIST curves implementations. My understanding is that NIST curves have hard
> coded a=-3, so we need to work around this with the isogeny. The construction
> is, in my opinion, a bit different from what simple isomorphism. It might also
> be good to have that overview stated in the introduction section.
> Annexes are good, but the necessary information for an implementation may be
> moved up to the main body.
> </mglt>
> 3.  Use of Representation Switches
>     The curve Wei25519.-3 (which has hardcoded domain parameter a=-3 (mod
>     p)) is not isomorphic to the curve Wei25519, but is related in a
>     slightly weaker sense: the curve Wei25519 is isogenous to the curve
>     Wei25519.-3, where the mapping of Appendix G.2 is an isogeny of
>     degree l=47 that maps the specified base point G of Wei25519 to the
>     specified base point G' of Wei25519.-3 and where the so-called dual
>     isogeny (which maps Wei25519.-3 to Wei25519) has the same degree
>     l=47, but does not map G' to G, but to a fixed multiple hereof, where
>     this multiple is l=47.  Consequently, a public-private key pair
>     (k,R:=k*G) for Wei25519 corresponds to the public-private key pair
>     (k, R':= k*G') for Wei25519.-3 (via the l-isogeny), whereas the
>     public-private key pair (k, R':=k*G') corresponds to the public-
>     private key pair (l*k, l*R=l*k*G) of Wei25519 (via the dual isogeny).
>     (Note the extra scalar l=47 here.)
> <mglt>
> This is just a comment that ascii does not help reading 1=47... but there is no
> much we can do. </mglt>
>     Alternative curve representations can, therefore, be used in any
>     cryptographic scheme that involves computations on public-private key
>     pairs, where implementations may carry out computations on the
>     corresponding object for the isomorphic or isogenous curve and
>     convert the results back to the original curve (where, in case this
>     involves an l-isogeny, one has to take into account the factor l).
>     This includes use with elliptic-curve based signature schemes and key
>     agreement and key transport schemes.
> <mglt>I believe we should specify somewhere that changing the representation
> does not ease the ECDLP for a given prime/curve</mglt>

RS>> This is a good observation. I captured this generally in the 
Security Considerations section (see first para of 
and also reminded the reader of this when introducing each isomorphism 
discussed in the document. See, 
where I added this remark for the isomorphic mapping from twisted 
Edwards to Montgomey (Annex D.1, end of first para), Montgomery to 
Weierstrass (Annex D.2, end of first para). I did not repeat this for 
the twisted Edwards to Weierstrass mapping (Annex D.3) or with the 
low-degree isogenies (Annex F), but could certainly sprinkle this in 
there as well, if so desired.


> 4.  Examples
> <mglt>
> I do not believe these are example regarding the focus of the document. Of
> course, the document could be more generic, but here we focus on 25519, so I
> would rename Example as Implementation. Or move subsection to one level, that
> is 4.1 -> 4. 4.2->5... </mglt>
> 8.  Security Considerations
>     Elliptic curves are generally used as objects in a broader
>     cryptographic scheme that may include processing steps that depend on
>     the representation conventions used (such as with, e.g., key
>     derivation following key establishment).  These schemes should
>     (obviously) unambiguously specify fixed representations of each input
>     and output (e.g., representing each elliptic curve point always in
>     short-Weierstrass form and in uncompressed tight MSB/msb format).
> <mglt>
> I think it might be worth mentioning here that while the scheme used in this
> document may be applied for other curves that 25519, not all modules are
> isomorphic to Weierstrass. In addition not all Weierstrass representation can
> be switched to a Montgomery representation. </mglt>

RS>> As you suggested above, not all curves can be expressed in Montgomery or twisted Edwards format (see also the 6th para of Appendix B.1: This being said, all [non-binary] curves *are* isomorphic to one in short-Weierstrass format, so that the short-Weierstrass format can be thought of as a "catch all" representation format.

>     To prevent cross-protocol attacks, private keys SHOULD only be used
>     with one cryptographic scheme.  Private keys MUST NOT be reused
>     between Ed25519 (as specified in [RFC8032]) and ECDSA25519 (as
>     specified in Section 4.3).
>     To prevent intra-protocol cross-instantiation attacks, ephemeral
>     private keys MUST NOT be reused between instantiations of ECDSA25519.

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