A Practical Attack on the Fixed RC4 in the WEP Mode

  • Itsik Mantin
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3788)


In this paper we revisit a known but ignored weakness of the RC4 keystream generator, where secret state info leaks to the generated keystream, and show that this leakage, also known as Jenkins’ correlation or the RC4 glimpse, can be used to attack RC4 in several modes. Our main result is a practical key recovery attack on RC4 when an IV modifier is concatenated to the beginning of a secret root key to generate a session key. As opposed to the WEP attack from [FMS01] the new attack is applicable even in the case where the first 256 bytes of the keystream are thrown and its complexity grows only linearly with the length of the key. In an exemplifying parameter setting the attack recovers a 16-byte key in 248 steps using 217 short keystreams generated from different chosen IVs. A second attacked mode is when the IV succeeds the secret root key. We mount a key recovery attack that recovers the secret root key by analyzing a single word from 222 keystreams generated from different IVs, improving the attack from [FMS01] on this mode. A third result is an attack on RC4 that is applicable when the attacker can inject faults to the execution of RC4. The attacker derives the internal state and the secret key by analyzing 214 faulted keystreams generated from this key.


RC4 Stream ciphers Cryptanalysis Fault analysis Side-channel attacks Related IV attacks Related key attacks 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Itsik Mantin
    • 1
  1. 1.NDS TechnologiesIsrael

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