At a fundamental level, the security of symmetric key cryptosystems ties back to Claude Shannon's properties of confusion and diffusion. Confusion can be defined as the complexity of the relationship between the secret key and ciphertext, and diffusion can be defined as the degree to which the influence of a single input plaintext bit is spread throughout the resulting ciphertext. In constructions of symmetric key cryptographic primitives, confusion and diffusion are commonly realized with the application of nonlinear and linear operations, respectively. The Substitution-Permutation Network design is one such popular construction adopted by the Advanced Encryption Standard, among other block ciphers, which employs substitution boxes, or S-boxes, for nonlinear behavior. As a result, much research has been devoted to improving the cryptographic strength and implementation efficiency of S-boxes so as to prohibit cryptanalysis attacks that exploit weak constructions and enable fast and area-efficient hardware implementations on a variety of platforms. To date, most published and standardized S-boxes are bijective functions on elements of 4 or 8 bits. In this work, we explore the cryptographic properties and implementations of 8 and 16 bit S-boxes. We study the strength of these S-boxes in the context of Boolean functions and investigate area-optimized combinational hardware implementations. We then present a variety of new 8 and 16 bit S-boxes that have ideal cryptographic properties and enable low-area combinational implementations.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Data encryption (Computer science); Computer security
Computer Science (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Computer Science (GCCIS)
Wood, Christopher A., "Large substitution boxes with efficient combinational implementations" (2013). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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