Re: [TLS] Encrypt-then-MAC again (was Re: padding bug)

Robert Ransom <> Fri, 29 November 2013 17:26 UTC

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Date: Fri, 29 Nov 2013 09:26:06 -0800
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From: Robert Ransom <>
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Cc: "<>" <>, Peter Gutmann <>
Subject: Re: [TLS] Encrypt-then-MAC again (was Re: padding bug)
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On 11/29/13, Juho Vähä-Herttua <> wrote:
>> On 29.11.2013, at 18.20, (Martin Rex) wrote:
>> I'm perfectly OK with a solution for fixing the mac-pad-encrypt goof
>> in GenericBlockCipher PDU for all existing versions of TLS, but I'm
>> strongly opposed to moving the HMAC into the clear, and into particular
>> I am strongly opposed to put the HMAC into the clear for the
>> GenericStreamCipher PDU.
> You have been quite clear about that, and I've got the impression that you
> are the only but very vocal opponent of encrypt-then-mac on this list.

Nikos Mavrogiannopoulos has also been opposed to encrypt-then-HMAC.  I
don't know of any others.

> Although in GenericStreamCipher it offers no benefit, I still haven't seen a
> convincing argument about why encrypt-then-mac should not be used.
> I'm sure you have good reasons for this opposition, so could you please
> explain them in one or two sentences. This excluding the "encrypting the
> HMAC makes it safer" argument, which might be true but as I understand is
> not well proven.

"not well proven" is the wrong phrase here.  Marsh Ray solidly debunked it.

> Adding AEAD support for TLS <1.2 is a good idea and wouldn't require hacks,
> but I'm worried it wouldn't be adopted fast enough.

To put it even more bluntly: OS and hardware vendors will treat TLS
1.2 or AEAD support and an efficient-in-secure-software AEAD cipher as
new features, and sit on them for a few *years*.  TLS, and every
pre-1.2 TLS implementation in the world, needs a critical security
bugfix *yesterday*, and the only bugfix I see that is ready to be
deployed as such is draft-gutmann-tls-encrypt-then-mac.

Robert Ransom