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It exploits single-byte biases in the initial 256 bytes of RC4 keystreams.
For details of these biases, see this slide-deck showing the distributions of the first 256 output bytes from the RC4 generator (based on 2 random 128-bit keys).
For details, see this slide-deck showing the distributions of the first 256 output bytes from the RC4 generator (based on 2 WPA/TKIP keys).
Our second attack applies to TLS and can be carried out in a single connection or session (but tolerates multiple connections/sessions).
The attacker could cause the TLS session to be terminated, and some applications running over TLS then automatically reconnect and retransmit a cookie or password.
In a web environment, the sessions may also be generated by client-side malware, in a similar way to the BEAST attack.
The number of encryptions needed to reliably recover a set of 16 consecutive targeted plaintext bytes is around 10⋅2 sessions, these target bytes can be recovered with 50% reliability.
Since this double-byte bias attack does not require the TLS Handshake Protocol to be rerun, it can in practice be more efficient than our single-byte bias attack.
The attacks arise from statistical flaws in the keystream generated by the RC4 algorithm which become apparent in TLS ciphertexts when the same plaintext is repeatedly encrypted.All TLS ciphersuites which include RC4 encryption are vulnerable to our attack.All TLS implementations which support RC4 are affected. Our first attack is a multi-session attack, which means that we require a target plaintext to be repeatedly sent in the same position in the plaintext stream in multiple TLS connections or sessions.The team behind this research comprises Nadhem Al Fardan, Dan Bernstein, Kenny Paterson, Bertram Poettering and Jacob Schuldt.Nadhem is a Ph D student in the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, University of London.