Salsa20

Last updated 20 days ago

Salsa20 is a stream cipher developed by Daniel J. Bernstein that expands a 256-bit key into 2^64 randomly accessible streams, each containing 2^64 randomly accessible 64-byte (512 bits) blocks.

Salsa20 doesn't require any lookup tables and avoids the possibility of timing attacks.

Internally, Salsa20 works like a block cipher used in counter mode. It uses a dedicated 64-bit block counter to avoid incrementing the nonce after each block.

The extended-nonce construction XSalsa20 is generally recommended over raw Salsa20, as it makes it easier to safely generate nonces.

Usage

int crypto_stream_salsa20(unsigned char *c, unsigned long long clen,
const unsigned char *n, const unsigned char *k);

The crypto_stream_salsa20() function stores clen pseudo random bytes into c using a nonce n (crypto_stream_salsa20_NONCEBYTES bytes) and a secret key k (crypto_stream_salsa20_KEYBYTES bytes).

int crypto_stream_salsa20_xor(unsigned char *c, const unsigned char *m,
unsigned long long mlen, const unsigned char *n,
const unsigned char *k);

The crypto_stream_salsa20_xor() function encrypts a message m of length mlen using a nonce n (crypto_stream_salsa20_NONCEBYTES bytes) and a secret key k (crypto_stream_salsa20_KEYBYTES bytes).

The ciphertext is put into c. The ciphertext is the message combined with the output of the stream cipher using the XOR operation, and doesn't include any authentication tag.

m and c can point to the same address (in-place encryption/decryption). If they don't, the regions should not overlap.

int crypto_stream_salsa20_xor_ic(unsigned char *c, const unsigned char *m,
unsigned long long mlen,
const unsigned char *n, uint64_t ic,
const unsigned char *k);

The crypto_stream_salsa20_xor_ic() function is similar to crypto_stream_salsa20_xor() but adds the ability to set the initial value of the block counter to a non-zero value, ic.

This permits direct access to any block without having to compute the previous ones.

m and c can point to the same address (in-place encryption/decryption). If they don't, the regions should not overlap.

void crypto_stream_salsa20_keygen(unsigned char k[crypto_stream_salsa20_KEYBYTES]);

This helper function introduced in libsodium 1.0.12 creates a random key k.

It is equivalent to calling randombytes_buf() but improves code clarity and can prevent misuse by ensuring that the provided key length is always be correct.

Constants

  • crypto_stream_salsa20_KEYBYTES

  • crypto_stream_salsa20_NONCEBYTES

Notes

The nonce is 64 bits long. In order to prevent nonce reuse, if a key is being reused, it is recommended to increment the previous nonce instead of generating a random nonce every time a new stream is required.

Alternatively, XSalsa20, a variant of Salsa20 with a longer nonce, can be used.

The functions described above perform 20 rounds of Salsa20.

Faster, reduced-rounds versions are also available:

Salsa20 reduced to 12 rounds

int crypto_stream_salsa2012(unsigned char *c, unsigned long long clen,
const unsigned char *n, const unsigned char *k);
int crypto_stream_salsa2012_xor(unsigned char *c, const unsigned char *m,
unsigned long long mlen, const unsigned char *n,
const unsigned char *k);
void crypto_stream_salsa2012_keygen(unsigned char k[crypto_stream_salsa2012_KEYBYTES]);

Salsa20 reduced to 8 rounds

int crypto_stream_salsa208(unsigned char *c, unsigned long long clen,
const unsigned char *n, const unsigned char *k);
int crypto_stream_salsa208_xor(unsigned char *c, const unsigned char *m,
unsigned long long mlen, const unsigned char *n,
const unsigned char *k);
void crypto_stream_salsa208_keygen(unsigned char k[crypto_stream_salsa208_KEYBYTES]);

Although the best known attack against Salsa20-8 is not practical, the full-round version provides a highest security margin while still being fast enough for most purposes.