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Authenticated Encryption (AE) is a block cipher mode of operation which simultaneously provides confidentiality and authenticity (integrity) assurances on the data. It became readily apparent that securely compositing a confidentiality mode with an authentication mode could be error prone and difficult. As Bellare, Rogaway, and Wagner wrote in A Conventional Authenticated-Encryption Mode[1]:

...people had been doing rather poorly when they tried to glue together a traditional (privacy-only) encryption scheme and a message authentication code (MAC).

And in The CWC Authenticated Encryption (Associated Data) Mode, Kohno, Whiting, and Viega write[2]: is very easy to accidentally combine secure encryption schemes with secure MACs and still get insecure authenticated encryption schemes.

In addition to protecting message integrity and confidentiality, authenticated encryption can provide plaintext awareness and security against chosen ciphertext attack. In these attacks, an adversary attempts to gain an advantage against a cryptosystem (e.g., information about the secret decryption key) by submitting carefully chosen ciphertexts to some "decryption oracle" and analyzing the decrypted results. Authenticated encryption schemes can recognize improperly-constructed ciphertexts and refuse to decrypt them. This in turn prevents the attacker from requesting the decryption of any ciphertext unless he generated it correctly using the encryption algorithm, which would imply that he already knows the plaintext. Implemented correctly, this removes the usefulness of the decryption oracle, by preventing an attacker from gaining useful information that he does not already possess.

Many specialized authenticated encryption modes have been developed for use with symmetric block ciphers. However, authenticated encryption can be generically constructed by combining an encryption scheme and a Message Authentication Code (MAC), provided that the encryption scheme is semantically secure under chosen plaintext attack and the MAC function is unforgeable under chosen message attack. Bellare and Namprempre (2000) analyzed three compositions of these primitives, and demonstrated that encrypting a message and subsequently applying a MAC to the ciphertext implies security against adaptive chosen ciphertext attack, provided that both functions meet the required properties.

Six different authenticated encryption modes, namely OCB 2.0, Key Wrap, CCM, EAX, Encrypt-then-MAC and GCM, have been standardized in ISO/IEC 19772:2009 (Authenticated encryption).

See also[]


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  1. M. Bellare, P. Rogaway, and D. Wagner. "A Conventional Authenticated-Encryption Mode",
  2. T. Kohno, J. Viega, and D. Whiting. "The CWC Authenticated Encryption (Associated Data) Mode",