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Unformatted text preview: ly—success. Eve can now impersonate Alice, forging her signature on documents at will. Fail-stop digital signatures, introduced by Birgit Pfitzmann and Michael Waidner , prevent this kind of cheating. If Eve forges Alice’s signatures after a brute-force attack, then Alice can prove they are forgeries. If Alice signs a document and then disavows the signature, claiming forgery, a court can verify that it is not a forgery. The basic idea behind fail-stop signatures is that for every possible public key, many possible private keys work with it. Each of these private keys yields many different possible signatures. However, Alice has only one private key and can compute just one signature. Alice doesn’t know any of the other private keys. Eve wants to break Alice’s private key. (Eve could also be Alice, trying to compute a second private key for herself.) She collects signed messages and, using her array of Cray computers, tries to recover Alice’s private key. Even if she manages to recover a valid private key, there are so many possible private keys that it is far more likely that she has a different one. The probability of Eve’s recovering the proper private key can be made so small as to be negligible. Now, when Eve forges a signed document using the private key she generated, it will have a different signature than if Alice signs the document herself. When Alice is hauled off to court, she can produce two different signatures for the same message and public key (corresponding to her private key and to the private key Eve created) to prove forgery. On the other hand, if Alice cannot produce the two different signatures, there is no forgery and Alice is still bound by her signature. This signature scheme protects against Eve breaking Alice’s signature scheme by sheer computational power. It does nothing against Mallory’s much more likely attack of breaking into Alice’s house and stealing her private key or Alice’s attack of signing a document and then...
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- Fall '10