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Designers Ron Rivest
First published April 1992
Series MD, MD2, MD3, MD4, MD5, MD6
Digest sizes 128 bits
Rounds 4

In cryptography, MD5 (Message-Digest algorithm 5) is a widely used, partially insecure[1] cryptographic hash function with a 128-bit hash value. As an Internet standard (RFC 1321), MD5 has been employed in a wide variety of security applications, and is also commonly used to check the integrity of files. An MD5 hash is typically expressed as a 32 digit hexadecimal number.

MD5 was designed by Ron Rivest in 1991 to replace an earlier hash function, MD4. In 1996, a flaw was found with the design of MD5. While it was not a clearly fatal weakness, cryptographers began recommending the use of other algorithms, such as SHA-1 (which has since been found vulnerable itself). In 2004, more serious flaws were discovered making further use of the algorithm for security purposes questionable.[2][3] In 2007 a group of researchers including Arjen Lenstra described how to create a pair of files that share the same MD5 checksum.[4]



[edit] History and cryptanalysis

Message Digest is a series of message digest algorithms designed by Professor Ronald Rivest of MIT (Rivest, 1994). When analytic work indicated that MD5's predecessor—MD4—was likely to be insecure, MD5 was designed in 1991 to be a secure replacement. (Weaknesses were indeed later found in MD4 by Hans Dobbertin.)

In 1993, Den Boer and Bosselaers gave an early, although limited, result of finding a "pseudo-collision" of the MD5 compression function; that is, two different initialization vectors which produce an identical digest.

In 1996, Dobbertin announced a collision of the compression function of MD5 (Dobbertin, 1996). While this was not an attack on the full MD5 hash function, it was close enough for cryptographers to recommend switching to a replacement, such as WHIRLPOOL, SHA-1 or RIPEMD-160.

The size of the hash—128 bits—is small enough to contemplate a birthday attack. MD5CRK was a distributed project started in March 2004 with the aim of demonstrating that MD5 is practically insecure by finding a collision using a birthday attack.

MD5CRK ended shortly after 17 August, 2004, when collisions for the full MD5 were announced by Xiaoyun Wang, Dengguo Feng, Xuejia Lai, and Hongbo Yu.[2][5][3] Their analytical attack was reported to take only one hour on an IBM p690 cluster.

On 1 March 2005, Arjen Lenstra, Xiaoyun Wang, and Benne de Weger demonstrated[6] construction of two X.509 certificates with different public keys and the same MD5 hash, a demonstrably practical collision. The construction included private keys for both public keys. A few days later, Vlastimil Klima described[7] an improved algorithm, able to construct MD5 collisions in a few hours on a single notebook computer. On 18 March 2006, Klima published an algorithm[8] that can find a collision within one minute on a single notebook computer, using a method he calls tunneling.

[edit] Vulnerability

Because MD5 makes only one pass over the data, if two prefixes with the same hash can be constructed, a common suffix can be added to both to make the collision more reasonable.

Because the current collision-finding techniques allow the preceding hash state to be specified arbitrarily, a collision can be found for any desired prefix; that is, for any given string of characters X, two colliding files can be determined which both begin with X.

All that is required to generate two colliding files is a template file, with a 128-byte block of data aligned on a 64-byte boundary, that can be changed freely by the collision-finding algorithm.

Recently, a number of projects have created MD5 "rainbow tables" which are easily accessible online, and can be used to reverse many MD5 hashes into strings that collide with the original input, usually for the purposes of password cracking. However, if passwords are combined with a salt before the MD5 digest is generated, rainbow tables become much less useful.

The use of MD5 in some websites' URLs means that Google can also sometimes function as a limited tool for reverse lookup of MD5 hashes.[9] This technique is rendered ineffective by the use of a salt.

[edit] Applications

MD5 digests have been widely used in the software world to provide some assurance that a transferred file has arrived intact. For example, file servers often provide a pre-computed MD5 checksum for the files, so that a user can compare the checksum of the downloaded file to it. Unix-based operating systems include MD5 sum utilities in their distribution packages, whereas Windows users use third-party applications.

However, now that it is easy to generate MD5 collisions, it is possible for the person who created the file to create a second file with the same checksum, so this technique cannot protect against some forms of malicious tampering. Also, in some cases the checksum cannot be trusted (for example, if it was obtained over the same channel as the downloaded file), in which case MD5 can only provide error-checking functionality: it will recognize a corrupt or incomplete download, which becomes more likely when downloading larger files.

MD5 is widely used to store passwords. To mitigate against the vulnerabilities mentioned above, one can add a salt to the passwords before hashing them. Some implementations may apply the hashing function more than once—see key strengthening.

[edit] Algorithm

Figure 1. One MD5 operation-MD5 consists of 64 of these operations, grouped in four rounds of 16 operations. F is a nonlinear function; one function is used in each round. Mi denotes a 32-bit block of the message input, and Ki denotes a 32-bit constant, different for each operation.

left shifts denotes a left bit rotation by s places; s varies for each operation. Addition denotes addition modulo 232.

MD5 processes a variable-length message into a fixed-length output of 128 bits. The input message is broken up into chunks of 512-bit blocks (sixteen 32-bit little endian integers); the message is padded so that its length is divisible by 512. The padding works as follows: first a single bit, 1, is appended to the end of the message. This is followed by as many zeros as are required to bring the length of the message up to 64 bits fewer than a multiple of 512. The remaining bits are filled up with a 64-bit integer representing the length of the original message, in bits.

The main MD5 algorithm operates on a 128-bit state, divided into four 32-bit words, denoted A, B, C and D. These are initialized to certain fixed constants. The main algorithm then operates on each 512-bit message block in turn, each block modifying the state. The processing of a message block consists of four similar stages, termed rounds; each round is composed of 16 similar operations based on a non-linear function F, modular addition, and left rotation. Figure 1 illustrates one operation within a round. There are four possible functions F; a different one is used in each round:

F(X,Y,Z) = (X\wedge{Y}) \vee (\neg{X} \wedge{Z})
G(X,Y,Z) = (X\wedge{Z}) \vee (Y \wedge \neg{Z})
H(X,Y,Z) = X \oplus Y \oplus Z
I(X,Y,Z) = Y \oplus (X \vee \neg{Z})

\oplus, \wedge, \vee, \neg denote the XOR, AND, OR and NOT operations respectively.

[edit] Pseudocode

Pseudocode for the MD5 algorithm follows.

//Note: All variables are unsigned 32 bits and wrap modulo 2^32 when calculating
var int[64] r, k

//r specifies the per-round shift amounts
r[ 0..15] := {7, 12, 17, 22,  7, 12, 17, 22,  7, 12, 17, 22,  7, 12, 17, 22} 
r[16..31] := {5,  9, 14, 20,  5,  9, 14, 20,  5,  9, 14, 20,  5,  9, 14, 20}
r[32..47] := {4, 11, 16, 23,  4, 11, 16, 23,  4, 11, 16, 23,  4, 11, 16, 23}
r[48..63] := {6, 10, 15, 21,  6, 10, 15, 21,  6, 10, 15, 21,  6, 10, 15, 21}

//Use binary integer part of the sines of integers (Radians) as constants:
for i from 0 to 63
    k[i] := floor(abs(sin(i + 1)) × (2 pow 32))

//Initialize variables:
var int h0 := 0x01234567
var int h1 := 0x89ABCDEF
var int h2 := 0xFEDCBA98
var int h3 := 0x76543210

append "1" bit to message
append "0" bits until message length in bits ≡ 448 (mod 512)
append bit /* bit, not byte */ length of unpadded message as 64-bit little-endian integer to message

//Process the message in successive 512-bit chunks:
for each 512-bit chunk of message
    break chunk into sixteen 32-bit little-endian words w[i], 0 ≤ i ≤ 15

    //Initialize hash value for this chunk:
    var int a := h0
    var int b := h1
    var int c := h2
    var int d := h3

    //Main loop:
    for i from 0 to 63
        if 0 ≤ i ≤ 15 then
            f := (b and c) or ((not b) and d)
            g := i
        else if 16 ≤ i ≤ 31
            f := (d and b) or ((not d) and c)
            g := (5×i + 1) mod 16
        else if 32 ≤ i ≤ 47
            f := b xor c xor d
            g := (3×i + 5) mod 16
        else if 48 ≤ i ≤ 63
            f := c xor (b or (not d))
            g := (7×i) mod 16
        temp := d
        d := c
        c := b
        b := b + leftrotate((a + f + k[i] + w[g]) , r[i])
        a := temp

    //Add this chunk's hash to result so far:
    h0 := h0 + a
    h1 := h1 + b 
    h2 := h2 + c
    h3 := h3 + d

var int digest := h0 append h1 append h2 append h3 //(expressed as little-endian)
  //leftrotate function definition
  leftrotate (x, c) 
      return (x << c) or (x >> (32-c)); 

Note: Instead of the formulation from the original RFC 1321 shown, the following may be used for improved efficiency (useful if assembly language is being used - otherwise, the compiler will generally optimize the above code. Since each computation is dependent on another in these formulations, this is often slower than the above method where the nand/and can be parallelised):

(0  ≤ i ≤ 15): f := d xor (b and (c xor d))
(16 ≤ i ≤ 31): f := c xor (d and (b xor c))

[edit] MD5 hashes

The 128-bit (16-byte) MD5 hashes (also termed message digests) are typically represented as a sequence of 32 hexadecimal digits. The following demonstrates a 43-byte ASCII input and the corresponding MD5 hash:

 MD5("The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog") 
  = 9e107d9d372bb6826bd81d3542a419d6

Even a small change in the message will (with overwhelming probability) result in a completely different hash, due to the avalanche effect. For example, adding a period to the end of the sentence:

 MD5("The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.") 
  = e4d909c290d0fb1ca068ffaddf22cbd0

The hash of the zero-length string is:

  = d41d8cd98f00b204e9800998ecf8427e

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Xiaoyun Wang and Hongbo Yu: How to Break MD5 and Other Hash Functions. Retrieved July 27, 2008
  2. ^ a b Xiaoyun Wang, Dengguo Feng, Xuejia Lai, Hongbo Yu: Collisions for Hash Functions MD4, MD5, HAVAL-128 and RIPEMD, Cryptology ePrint Archive Report 2004/199, 16 Aug 2004, revised 17 Aug 2004. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  3. ^ a b J. Black, M. Cochran, T. Highland: A Study of the MD5 Attacks: Insights and Improvements, March 3, 2006. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  4. ^ Marc Stevens, Arjen Lenstra, Benne de Weger: Vulnerability of software integrity and code signing applications to chosen-prefix collisions for MD5, Nov 30, 2007. Retrived Jul 27, 2008.
  5. ^ Philip Hawkes and Michael Paddon and Gregory G. Rose: Musings on the Wang et al. MD5 Collision, 13 Oct 2004. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  6. ^ Arjen Lenstra, Xiaoyun Wang, Benne de Weger: Colliding X.509 Certificates, Cryptology ePrint Archive Report 2005/067, 1 Mar 2005, revised 6 May 2005. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  7. ^ Vlastimil Klima: Finding MD5 Collisions – a Toy For a Notebook, Cryptology ePrint Archive Report 2005/075, 5 Mar 2005, revised 8 Mar 2005. Retrieved July 27, 2008.
  8. ^ Vlastimil Klima: Tunnels in Hash Functions: MD5 Collisions Within a Minute, Cryptology ePrint Archive Report 2006/105, 18 Mar 2006, revised 17 Apr 2006. Retrueved July 27, 2008.
  9. ^ Steven J. Murdoch: Google as a password cracker, Light Blue Touchpaper Blog Archive, Nov 16, 2007. Retrieved July 27, 2008.

[edit] References

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Test Vectors

The NESSIE project test vectors for MD5

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