On the Key Schedule of Lightweight Block Ciphers
Key schedules in lightweight block ciphers are often highly simplified, which causes weakness that can be exploited in many attacks. Today it remains an open problem on how to use limited operations to guarantee enough diffusion of key bits in lightweight key schedules. Also, there are few tools special for detecting weakness in the key schedule. In 2013 Huang et al. pointed out that insufficient actual key information (AKI) in computation chains is responsible for many attacks especially the meet-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks. Motivated by this fact, in this paper we develop an efficient (with polynomial time complexity) and effective tool to search the computation chains which involve insufficient AKI for iterated key schedules of lightweight ciphers. The effectiveness of this tool is shown by an application on TWINE-80. Then, we formulate the cause of key bits leakage phenomenon, where the knowledge of subkey bits is leaked or overlapped by other subkey bits in the same computation chain. Based on the interaction of diffusion performed by the key schedule and by the round function, a necessary condition is thus given on how to avoid key bits leakage. Therefore, our work sheds light on the design of lightweight key schedules by guiding how to quickly rule out unreasonable key schedules and maximize the security under limited diffusion.