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SALSA VERDE: a machine learning attack on LWE with sparse small secrets

Cathy Li · Emily Wenger · Zeyuan Allen-Zhu · Francois Charton · Kristin E. Lauter

Great Hall & Hall B1+B2 (level 1) #306
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[ Paper [ Poster [ OpenReview
Tue 12 Dec 3:15 p.m. PST — 5:15 p.m. PST

Abstract: Learning with Errors (LWE) is a hard math problem used in post-quantum cryptography. Homomorphic Encryption (HE) schemes rely on the hardness of the LWE problem for their security, and two LWE-based cryptosystems were recently standardized by NIST for digital signatures and key exchange (KEM). Thus, it is critical to continue assessing the security of LWE and specific parameter choices. For example, HE uses secrets with small entries, and the HE community has considered standardizing small sparse secrets to improve efficiency and functionality. However, prior work, SALSA and PICANTE, showed that ML attacks can recover sparse binary secrets. Building on these, we propose VERDE, an improved ML attack that can recover sparse binary, ternary, and narrow Gaussian secrets. Using improved preprocessing and secret recovery techniques, VERDE can attack LWE with larger dimensions ($n=512$) and smaller moduli ($\log_2 q=12$ for $n=256$), using less time and power. We propose novel architectures for scaling. Finally, we develop a theory that explains the success of ML LWE attacks.

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