A cryptanalysis of PRINTcipher: The invariant subspace attack

Gregor Leander, Mohamed Ahmed Abdelraheem, Hoda Alkhzaimi, Erik Zenner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


At CHES 2010, the new block cipher PRINTcipher was presented as a light-weight encryption solution for printable circuits [15]. The best attack to date is a differential attack [1] that breaks less than half of the rounds. In this paper, we will present a new attack called invariant subspace attack that breaks the full cipher for a significant fraction of its keys. This attack can be seen as a weak-key variant of a statistical saturation attack. For such weak keys, a chosen plaintext distinguishing attack can be mounted in unit time. In addition to breaking PRINTcipher, the new attack also gives us new insights into other, more well-established attacks. We derive a truncated differential characteristic with a round-independent but highly key-dependent probability. In addition, we also show that for weak keys, strongly biased linear approximations exists for any number of rounds. In this sense, PRINTcipher behaves very differently to what is usually - often implicitly - assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Cryptology - CRYPTO 2011 - 31st Annual Cryptology Conference, Proceedings
PublisherSpringer Verlag
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9783642227912
StatePublished - 2011
Event31st Annual International Cryptology Conference, CRYPTO 2011 - Santa Barbara, CA, United States
Duration: Aug 14 2011Aug 18 2011

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume6841 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Other31st Annual International Cryptology Conference, CRYPTO 2011
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySanta Barbara, CA


  • Symmetric cryptography
  • block cipher
  • invariant subspace attack
  • linear cryptanalysis
  • statistical saturation attack
  • truncated differentials

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Theoretical Computer Science
  • General Computer Science


Dive into the research topics of 'A cryptanalysis of PRINTcipher: The invariant subspace attack'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this