Message authentication

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In information security, message authentication or data origin authentication is a property that a message has not been modified while in transit (data integrity) and that the receiving party can verify the source of the message.[1] Message authentication does not necessarily include the property of non-repudiation.[2][3]

Message authentication is typically achieved by using message authentication codes (MACs), authenticated encryption (AE) or digital signatures.[2] The message authentication code, also known as digital authenticator, is used as an integrity check based on a secret key shared by two parties to authenticate information transmitted between them.[4] It is based on using a cryptographic hash or symmetric encryption algorithm.[5] The authentication key is only shared by exactly two parties (e.g. communicating devices), and the authentication will fail in the existence of a third party possessing the key since the algorithm will no longer be able to detect forgeries (i.e. to be able to validate the unique source of the message).[6] In addition, the key must also be randomly generated to avoid its recovery through brute-force searches and related-key attacks designed to identify it from the messages transiting the medium.[6]

Some cryptographers distinguish between "message authentication without secrecy" systems – which allow the intended receiver to verify the source of the message, but they don't bother hiding the plaintext contents of the message – from authenticated encryption systems.[7] Some cryptographers have researched subliminal channel systems that send messages that appear to use a "message authentication without secrecy" system, but in fact also transmit a secret message.

Data origin authentication and non-repudiation have been also studied in the framework of quantum cryptography.[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Mihir Bellare. "Chapter 7: Message Authentication" (PDF). CSE 207: Modern Cryptography. Lecture notes for cryptography course.
  2. ^ a b Alfred J. Menezes, Paul C. van Oorschot, Scott A. Vanstone. "Chapter 9 - Hash Functions and Data Integrity" (PDF). Handbook of Applied Cryptography. p. 361.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  3. ^ "Data Origin Authentication". Web Service Security. Microsoft Developer Network.
  4. ^ Patel, Dhiren (2008). Information Security: Theory and Practice. New Delhi: Prentice Hall India Private Lt. p. 124. ISBN 9788120333512.
  5. ^ Jacobs, Stuart (2011). Engineering Information Security: The Application of Systems Engineering Concepts to Achieve Information Assurance. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & sons. p. 108. ISBN 9780470565124.
  6. ^ a b Walker, Jesse (2013). "Chapter 13 – Internet Security". In Vacca, John R. (ed.). Computer and Information Security Handbook (3rd ed.). Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. pp. 256–257. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-803843-7.00013-2. ISBN 9780128038437.
  7. ^ Longo, G.; Marchi, M.; Sgarro, A. (4 May 2014). Geometries, Codes and Cryptography. p. 188. ISBN 9783709128381.
  8. ^ Pirandola, S.; Andersen, U. L.; Banchi, L.; Berta, M.; Bunandar, D.; Colbeck, R.; Englund, D.; Gehring, T.; Lupo, C.; Ottaviani, C.; Pereira, J. (2020). "Advances in Quantum Cryptography". Advances in Optics and Photonics. 12 (4): 1012–1236. arXiv:1906.01645. Bibcode:2020AdOP...12.1012P. doi:10.1364/AOP.361502. S2CID 174799187.
  9. ^ Nikolopoulos, Georgios M.; Fischlin, Marc (2020). "Information-Theoretically Secure Data Origin Authentication with Quantum and Classical Resources". Cryptography. 4 (4): 31. arXiv:2011.06849. doi:10.3390/cryptography4040031. S2CID 226956062.