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ISG Research Seminar 06 March 2014

06/03/2014 (11:00-12:00)

Contact: Lorenzo Cavallaro


Speaker: Sourav Sen Gupta (Centre of Excellence in Cryptology, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata)

Title: RC4 - Dead or Alive?

Sourav Sen Gupta obtained his Bachelors degree in Engineering from Jadavpur University, India, in 2006, and a Masters degree in Mathematics from University of Waterloo, Canada, in 2008. He has recently obtained his PhD in Computer Science from the Indian Statistical Institute, and he is currently affiliated as a Researcher at the Centre of Excellence in Cryptology of the same institute. Sourav takes interest in pursuing research problems in Cryptology pertaining to the analysis and implementation of stream ciphers, and some aspects of public-key cryptanalysis.


RC4 has been the most popular stream cipher in the history of symmetric key cryptography. Designed in 1987 by Ron Rivest, RC4 is the most widely deployed commercial stream cipher, having applications in
network protocols such as SSL/TLS, WEP, WPA and in Microsoft Windows, Apple OCE, Secure SQL, etc. The sheer elegance and enigmatic appeal of the cipher has roots in its tiny `four-line¹ description, which is undoubtedly the simplest for any practical cryptographic algorithm to date.

The focus of this talk will be on cryptanalysis of RC4. Since 1994, cryptanalysts around the world have continuously targeted RC4 in both its theoretical form as well as in its practical applications. In this talk, we shall take a journey through the plethora of statistical weaknesses discovered hitherto in RC4 pseudo-random generation, and shall also discuss their implications towards RC4-based protocols.

Hopefully, this talk will be successful in initiating a debate on the past, present and future of RC4, the simplest modern cipher in practice.


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