Post-Quantum TLS without handshake signatures


It’s possible to make TLS 1.3 post-quantum secure by just plugging in post-quantum key exchange and a post-quantum signature scheme. But PQ signatures tend to be quite big and slow. KEMTLS is our proposal for a post-quantum secure variant of TLS that authenticates by using KEMs instead of the handshake signature. With a trick to preserve the ability to allow the client to send the request after the server sends its certificate: using KEMs instead of signatures doesn’t take more round trips for this first message. We compare a few instantiations of KEMTLS. Optimised for communication size, KEMTLS, with SIKE for KEX and handshake authentication, GeMSS for the CA certificate and a custom XMSS for optional intermediate certificates, requires less than half the bandwidth of a post-quantum TLS 1.3 using Falcon for the handshake signature. When picking primitives for speed, KEMTLS reduces the amount of server CPU cycles by up to 90% compared to an equivalent post-quantum instantiation of TLS 1.3, as well as reducing the time before the client can send its first application data.

2020-11-09 — 2020-11-13
Thom Wiggers
Thom Wiggers
Senior Cryptography Researcher

My research interests include (post-quantum) cryptography and protocols