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Versions: 00 RFC 1751

Network Working Group                                        D. McDonald
INTERNET-DRAFT                                                       NRL
draft-mcdonald-readable-keys-00.txt                       20 August 1994

              A Convention for Human-Readable 128-bit Keys

Status of this Memo

   Internet Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
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   Please check the I-D abstract listing contained in each Internet
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   Distribution of this memo is unlimited.


   The Internet community has begun to address matters of security.
   Recent standards, including version 2 of SNMP [GM93], and version 6
   of IP [Atk94] have explicit requirements for an authentication
   mechanism.  Both require used of a keyed message-digest algorithm,
   MD5 [Riv92].  Both require a key size of 128-bits.  A 128-bit key,
   while sufficiently strong, is hard for most people to read, remember,
   and type in.

A Solution Already Exists

   The S/Key(tm) one-time password system [Hal94] uses MD4 (and now MD5,
   as well) to compute one-time passwords.  It takes the 128-bit result
   of MD4 and collapses it to a 64-bit result.  Despite the size
   reduction, 64-bit one-time passwords are still difficult for ordinary
   people to remember and enter.  The authors of S/Key devised a system
   to make the 64-bit one-time password easy for people to enter.

   Their idea was to transform the password into a string of small
   English words.  English words are significantly easier for people to

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   both remember and type.  The authors of S/Key started with a
   dictionary of 2048 English words, ranging in length from one to four
   characters.  The space covered by a 64-bit key (2^64) could be
   covered by six words from this dictionary (2^66) with room remaining
   for parity.  For example, an S/Key one-time password of hex value:

                            EB33 F77E E73D 4053

   would become the following six English words:

                       TIDE ITCH SLOW REIN RULE MOT

The Proposal

   The code (see Appendix A) which S/Key uses to convert 64-bit numbers
   to six English words contains two primitives which perform
   conversions either way.  The primitive btoe(char *engout,char *c)
   takes a 64-bit quantity referenced by c and places English words in
   the string referenced by engout.  The primitive etob(char *out,char
   *e) performs the opposite with an input string of English words
   referenced by e, and by placing the 64-bit result into the buffer
   referenced by out.

   The aforementioned primitives can be applied to both halves of a
   128-bit key, or both halves of a string of twelve English words.  Two
   new primitives (see Appendix B), key2eng(char *engout,char *key) and
   eng2key(char *keyout,char *eng) serve as wrappers which call the
   S/Key primitives twice, once for each half of the 128-bit key or
   string of twelve words.

   For example, the 128-bit key of:

                  CCAC 2AED 5910 56BE 4F90 FD44 1C53 4766

   would become


   Likewise, a user should be able to type in


   as a key, and the machine should make the translation to:

                  EFF8 1F9B FBC6 5350 920C DD74 16DE 8009

   If this proposal is to work, it is critical that the dictionary of
   English words does not change with different implementations.  A

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   freely redistributable reference implementation is given in
   Appendices A and B.

Security Considerations

   This document recommends a method of representing 128-bit keys using
   strings of English words.  Since the strings of English words are
   easy to remember, people may potentially construct easy-to-guess
   strings of English words.  With easy-to-guess strings comes the
   possibility of a sentential equivalent of a dictionary attack.  In
   order to maximize the strength of any authentication mechanism that
   uses 128-bit keys, the keys must be sufficiently obscure.  In
   particular, people should avoid the temptation to devise sentences.


   [Atk94]  Atkinson, Randall, "IPv6 Authentication Header", Internet-
   Draft, August 1994.

   [GM93]  Galvin, J. and McCloghrie, K., "Security Protocols for
   version 2 of the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMPv2)",
   RFC1446, Internet Architecture Board, April 1993.

   [Hal94]  Haller, Neil M., "The S/Key(tm) One-Time Password System",
   Proceedings of the Symposium on Network & Distributed Systems
   Security, Internet Society, San Diego, February 1994.

   [Riv92]  Rivest, R., "The MD5 Message-Digest Algorithm", RFC1321,
   Internet Architecture Board, April 1992.

Author's Address

   Daniel L. McDonald
   United States Naval Research Laboratory
   Code 5544
   4555 Overlook Ave. SW
   Washington, DC 20375

   Phone:  (202) 404-7122

   E-mail:  danmcd@itd.nrl.navy.mil

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Appendix A - Source for S/Key 8-bytes to/from Words Routines (put.c)

/* This code originally appeared in the source for S/Key, available in the
 * directory
 *  ftp://thumper.bellcore.com/pub/nmh
 * It has been modified only to remove explicit S/Key references.

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <assert.h>
#include <ctype.h>

#ifdef __STDC__
#define __ARGS(x) x
#define __ARGS(x) ()

static unsigned long extract __ARGS((char *s,int start,int length));
static void standard __ARGS((char *word));
static void insert __ARGS((char *s, int x, int start, int length));
static int wsrch __ARGS((char *w,int low,int high));

/* Dictionary for integer-word translations */
char Wp[2048][4] = {
"A", "ABE", "ACE", "ACT", "AD", "ADA", "ADD", "AGO", "AID", "AIM", "AIR",
"ALL", "ALP", "AM", "AMY", "AN", "ANA", "AND", "ANN", "ANT", "ANY", "APE",
"APS", "APT", "ARC", "ARE", "ARK", "ARM", "ART", "AS", "ASH", "ASK", "AT",
"ATE", "AUG", "AUK", "AVE", "AWE", "AWK", "AWL", "AWN", "AX", "AYE", "BAD",
"BAG", "BAH", "BAM", "BAN", "BAR", "BAT", "BAY", "BE", "BED", "BEE", "BEG",
"BEN", "BET", "BEY", "BIB", "BID", "BIG", "BIN", "BIT", "BOB", "BOG", "BON",
"BOO", "BOP", "BOW", "BOY", "BUB", "BUD", "BUG", "BUM", "BUN", "BUS", "BUT",
"BUY", "BY", "BYE", "CAB", "CAL", "CAM", "CAN", "CAP", "CAR", "CAT", "CAW",
"COD", "COG", "COL", "CON", "COO", "COP", "COT", "COW", "COY", "CRY", "CUB",
"CUE", "CUP", "CUR", "CUT", "DAB", "DAD", "DAM", "DAN", "DAR", "DAY", "DEE",
"DEL", "DEN", "DES", "DEW", "DID", "DIE", "DIG", "DIN", "DIP", "DO", "DOE",
"DOG", "DON", "DOT", "DOW", "DRY", "DUB", "DUD", "DUE", "DUG", "DUN", "EAR",
"EAT", "ED", "EEL", "EGG", "EGO", "ELI", "ELK", "ELM", "ELY", "EM", "END",
"EST", "ETC", "EVA", "EVE", "EWE", "EYE", "FAD", "FAN", "FAR", "FAT", "FAY",
"FED", "FEE", "FEW", "FIB", "FIG", "FIN", "FIR", "FIT", "FLO", "FLY", "FOE",
"FOG", "FOR", "FRY", "FUM", "FUN", "FUR", "GAB", "GAD", "GAG", "GAL", "GAM",
"GAP", "GAS", "GAY", "GEE", "GEL", "GEM", "GET", "GIG", "GIL", "GIN", "GO",
"GOT", "GUM", "GUN", "GUS", "GUT", "GUY", "GYM", "GYP", "HA", "HAD", "HAL",
"HAM", "HAN", "HAP", "HAS", "HAT", "HAW", "HAY", "HE", "HEM", "HEN", "HER",
"HEW", "HEY", "HI", "HID", "HIM", "HIP", "HIS", "HIT", "HO", "HOB", "HOC",
"HOE", "HOG", "HOP", "HOT", "HOW", "HUB", "HUE", "HUG", "HUH", "HUM", "HUT",

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"I", "ICY", "IDA", "IF", "IKE", "ILL", "INK", "INN", "IO", "ION", "IQ", "IRA",
"IRE", "IRK", "IS", "IT", "ITS", "IVY", "JAB", "JAG", "JAM", "JAN", "JAR",
"JAW", "JAY", "JET", "JIG", "JIM", "JO", "JOB", "JOE", "JOG", "JOT", "JOY",
"JUG", "JUT", "KAY", "KEG", "KEN", "KEY", "KID", "KIM", "KIN", "KIT", "LA",
"LAB", "LAC", "LAD", "LAG", "LAM", "LAP", "LAW", "LAY", "LEA", "LED", "LEE",
"LEG", "LEN", "LEO", "LET", "LEW", "LID", "LIE", "LIN", "LIP", "LIT", "LO",
"LOB", "LOG", "LOP", "LOS", "LOT", "LOU", "LOW", "LOY", "LUG", "LYE", "MA",
"MAC", "MAD", "MAE", "MAN", "MAO", "MAP", "MAT", "MAW", "MAY", "ME", "MEG",
"MEL", "MEN", "MET", "MEW", "MID", "MIN", "MIT", "MOB", "MOD", "MOE", "MOO",
"MOP", "MOS", "MOT", "MOW", "MUD", "MUG", "MUM", "MY", "NAB", "NAG", "NAN",
"NAP", "NAT", "NAY", "NE", "NED", "NEE", "NET", "NEW", "NIB", "NIL", "NIP",
"NIT", "NO", "NOB", "NOD", "NON", "NOR", "NOT", "NOV", "NOW", "NU", "NUN",
"NUT", "O", "OAF", "OAK", "OAR", "OAT", "ODD", "ODE", "OF", "OFF", "OFT",
"OH", "OIL", "OK", "OLD", "ON", "ONE", "OR", "ORB", "ORE", "ORR", "OS", "OTT",
"OUR", "OUT", "OVA", "OW", "OWE", "OWL", "OWN", "OX", "PA", "PAD", "PAL",
"PAM", "PAN", "PAP", "PAR", "PAT", "PAW", "PAY", "PEA", "PEG", "PEN", "PEP",
"PER", "PET", "PEW", "PHI", "PI", "PIE", "PIN", "PIT", "PLY", "PO", "POD",
"POE", "POP", "POT", "POW", "PRO", "PRY", "PUB", "PUG", "PUN", "PUP", "PUT",
"QUO", "RAG", "RAM", "RAN", "RAP", "RAT", "RAW", "RAY", "REB", "RED", "REP",
"RET", "RIB", "RID", "RIG", "RIM", "RIO", "RIP", "ROB", "ROD", "ROE", "RON",
"ROT", "ROW", "ROY", "RUB", "RUE", "RUG", "RUM", "RUN", "RYE", "SAC", "SAD",
"SAG", "SAL", "SAM", "SAN", "SAP", "SAT", "SAW", "SAY", "SEA", "SEC", "SEE",
"SEN", "SET", "SEW", "SHE", "SHY", "SIN", "SIP", "SIR", "SIS", "SIT", "SKI",
"SKY", "SLY", "SO", "SOB", "SOD", "SON", "SOP", "SOW", "SOY", "SPA", "SPY",
"SUB", "SUD", "SUE", "SUM", "SUN", "SUP", "TAB", "TAD", "TAG", "TAN", "TAP",
"TAR", "TEA", "TED", "TEE", "TEN", "THE", "THY", "TIC", "TIE", "TIM", "TIN",
"TIP", "TO", "TOE", "TOG", "TOM", "TON", "TOO", "TOP", "TOW", "TOY", "TRY",
"TUB", "TUG", "TUM", "TUN", "TWO", "UN", "UP", "US", "USE", "VAN", "VAT",
"VET", "VIE", "WAD", "WAG", "WAR", "WAS", "WAY", "WE", "WEB", "WED", "WEE",
"WET", "WHO", "WHY", "WIN", "WIT", "WOK", "WON", "WOO", "WOW", "WRY", "WU",
"YAM", "YAP", "YAW", "YE", "YEA", "YES", "YET", "YOU", "ABED", "ABEL", "ABET",

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/* Encode 8 bytes in 'c' as a string of English words.
 * Returns a pointer to a static buffer
char *
char *c, *engout;
        char cp[9];     /* add in room for the parity 2 bits*/
        int p,i ;

        engout[0] = '\0';
        memcpy(cp, c,8);
        /* compute parity */
        for(p = 0,i = 0; i < 64;i += 2)
                p += extract(cp,i,2);

        cp[8] = (char)p << 6;
        strncat(engout,&Wp[extract(cp, 0,11)][0],4);
        strcat(engout," ");
        strcat(engout," ");
        strcat(engout," ");
        strcat(engout," ");
        strcat(engout," ");
#ifdef  notdef
        printf("engout is %s\n\r",engout);

/* convert English to binary
 * returns 1 OK - all good words and parity is OK
 *         0 word not in data base
 *        -1 badly formed in put ie > 4 char word
 *        -2 words OK but parity is wrong
etob(out, e)
char *out;

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char *e;
        char *word;
        int i, p, v,l, low,high;
        char b[9];
        char input[36];

        if(e == NULL)
                return -1;

        memset(b, 0, sizeof(b));
        memset(out, 0, 8);
                if((word = strtok(i == 0 ? input : NULL," ")) == NULL)
                        return -1;
                l = strlen(word);
                if(l > 4 || l < 1){
                        return -1;
                } else if(l < 4){
                        low = 0;
                        high = 570;
                } else {
                        low = 571;
                        high = 2047;
                if( (v = wsrch(word,low,high)) < 0 )
                        return 0;

        /* now check the parity of what we got */
        for(p = 0, i = 0; i < 64; i +=2)
                p += extract(b, i, 2);

        if( (p & 3) != extract(b, 64,2) )
                return -2;


        return 1;
/* Display 8 bytes as a series of 16-bit hex digits */
char *
char *out;
char *s;

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        sprintf(out,"%02X%02X %02X%02X %02X%02X %02X%02X",
                s[0] & 0xff,s[1] & 0xff,s[2] & 0xff,
                s[3] & 0xff,s[4] & 0xff,s[5] & 0xff,
                s[6] & 0xff,s[7] & 0xff);
        return out;
#ifdef  notdef
/* Encode 8 bytes in 'cp' as stream of ascii letters.
 * Provided as a possible alternative to btoe()
char *
char *cp;
        int i;
        static char out[31];

        /* code out put by characters 6 bits each added to 0x21 (!)*/
        for(i=0;i <= 10;i++){
                /* last one is only 4 bits not 6*/
                out[i] = '!'+ extract(cp,6*i,i >= 10 ? 4:6);
        out[i] = '\0';

/* Internal subroutines for word encoding/decoding */

/* Dictionary binary search */
static int
char *w;
int low, high;
        int i,j;

                i = (low + high)/2;
                if((j = strncmp(w,Wp[i],4)) == 0)
                        return i;       /* Found it */
                if(high == low+1){
                        /* Avoid effects of integer truncation in /2 */
                        if(strncmp(w,Wp[high],4) == 0)
                                return high;
                                return -1;

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                if(low >= high)
                        return -1;      /* I don't *think* this can happen...*/
                if(j < 0)
                        high = i;       /* Search lower half */
                        low = i;        /* Search upper half */
static void
insert(s, x, start, length)
char *s;
int x;
int  start, length;
        unsigned char cl;
        unsigned char cc;
        unsigned char cr;
        unsigned long y;
        int shift;

        assert(length <= 11);
        assert(start >= 0);
        assert(length >= 0);
        assert(start +length <= 66);

        shift = ((8  -(( start + length) % 8))%8);
        y = (long) x << shift;
        cl = (y >> 16) & 0xff;
        cc = (y >> 8) & 0xff;
        cr = y & 0xff;
        if(shift + length > 16){
                s[start /8] |= cl;
                s[start/8 +1] |= cc;
                s[start/8 +2] |= cr;
        } else if(shift +length > 8){
                s[start/8] |= cc;
                s[start/8 + 1] |= cr;
        } else {
                s[start/8] |= cr;

static void
register char *word;

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                        *word = toupper(*word);
                if(*word == '1')
                        *word = 'L';
                if(*word == '0')
                        *word = 'O';
                if(*word == '5')
                        *word = 'S';

/* Extract 'length' bits from the char array 's' starting with bit 'start' */
static unsigned long
extract(s, start, length)
char *s;
int start, length;
        unsigned char cl;
        unsigned char cc;
        unsigned char cr;
        unsigned long x;

        assert(length <= 11);
        assert(start >= 0);
        assert(length >= 0);
        assert(start +length <= 66);

        cl = s[start/8];
        cc = s[start/8 +1];
        cr = s[start/8 +2];
        x = ((long)(cl<<8 | cc) <<8  | cr) ;
        x = x >> (24 - (length + (start %8)));
        x =( x & (0xffff >> (16-length) )   );

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Appendix B - Source for 128-bit key to/from English words (convert.c)

/* convert.c  --  Wrapper to S/Key binary-to-English routines.
                  Daniel L. McDonald  --  U. S. Naval Research Laboratory. */

#include <string.h>

/* eng2key() assumes words must be separated by spaces only.

   eng2key() returns

   1 if succeeded
   0 if word not in dictionary
   -1 if badly formed string
   -2 if words are okay but parity is wrong.
   (see etob() in S/Key)

int eng2key(keyout,eng)
char *keyout,*eng;
  int rc=0,state=1;
  char *eng2;

  /* Find pointer to word 7. */

  for (eng2 = eng; rc<7 && (*(++eng2) != '\0'); )
    if (*eng2 != ' ')
        rc += state;
        state = 0;
    else state=1;

  if ( (rc = etob(keyout,eng)) != 1)
    return rc;

  rc = etob(keyout+8,eng2);

  return rc;

/* key2eng() assumes string referenced by engout has at least 60 characters
   (4*12 + 11 spaces + '\0') of space.

   key2eng() returns pointer to engout.


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char *key2eng(engout,key)
char *engout,*key;
  strcat(engout," ");

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