Lab - Hash Functions
In this guide we will develop programs that use cryptographic methods,
relying in the Python3 Cryptography module.
The module can be installed using the typical package management methods
python3-cryptography), or using the
pip3 install cryptography).
It will be useful to visualize and edit files in binary format. For that
purpose, if you are using Linux, you may install
from the repositories.
We will be exploring the low level interface of the
python cryptography library, for educational purposes.
If you plan to use this library in real world application, stay with the Fernet interface.
As the documentation clearly states:
This is a “Hazardous Materials” module. You should ONLY use it if you’re 100% absolutely sure that you know what you’re doing because this module is full of land mines, dragons, and dinosaurs with laser guns.
Cryptographic hash functions
Create a program to produce the hash of the contents of a file. The user
must provide the following input to the program: (i) the name of the
file with the data to create the hash, and (ii) the name of the
cryptographic hash function to use (
Blake2. The program must print the hash in the
screen, in hexadecimal format.
- How can you obtain the original text from the resulting digest?
A very important requirement for cryptographic hash functions is that a small change in a text must produce a completely different hash – avalanche effect. In this exercise we are going to verify this requirement.
Select or create a file to calculate the hash. Using your program to obtain the hash of the file you just selected and save it in a file. Repeat the operation to obtain the hash of the same file, but using different cryptographic hash functions, and save the result hash in separated files.
Change one single bit of data in the source file you used above. Using this altered source file, obtain the hash produced by each of the cryptographic functions used in the previous step, and save them in separate files.
Compare the similarity of each pair of hashes produced by the same cryptographic hash function, and using source files differing only in a single bit.
Statistical analysis of avalanche effect
Based on the program you developed to calculate cryptographic hashes, create a
new program to calculate the statistical distribution of the differences
in the hashes of a set of messages that differ in one single bit from an
original message. The program must receive from the user the following
input: (i) the name of the file with the source message and (ii) the
number of messages (
N), differing one bit from the original message,
to calculate the hash. The creation of single bit altered messages must
use a random number generator to calculate the position of the bit to
After the calculation of the hashes of all the
N one-bit altered
messages, evaluate the difference between each of these hashes and the
hash of the original message, in terms of number of bits (Hamming
distance, in bits). Comment the distribution of the differences that you
Hint: Use the
XOR operation to detect the number of different bits
between between two hashes (number of bits with the value 1 in the
Symmetric key generation
Before a cipher is used, it is required the generation of proper
arguments. These arguments are the key, the cipher mode, and potentially
the IV. The cipher
mode is chosen at design time, and the
IV should always be a large random number
(size similar to the block size or key) that is never repeated. This lab
will discuss the IVs
in the next sections.
The key can be obtained from good sources of random numbers, or
generated from other primitive material such as a password. When
choosing the last source (a password), it is imperative to transform the
user text into a key of the correct complexity. While there are many
methods, we will consider the Password Based Key Derivation Function 2
(PBKDF2), which takes a key, a
random value named salt, a digest algorithm, and a number of iterations
(you should use several thousands). The algorithm will iterate the
digest algorithm in a chain starting in the concatenation of the salt
and key, for the specified number of iterations. Using
SHA2, the result
is at least 256 bits, which can be used as a key.
Exercise: Construct a small function that generates and returns a
symmetric key from a password. The algorithm name for the symmetric key
and the file name should be provided as an argument. For testing
purposes, the algorithm should be provided by the user as a argument and
you can use the following algorithms:
To provide the password, check the
getpass Python3 module.