Completeness (cryptography)

# Completeness (cryptography)

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Encyclopedia
In cryptography
Cryptography
Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties...

, a boolean function is said to be complete if the value of each output bit depends on all input bits.

This is a desirable property to have in an encryption cipher, so that if one bit of the input (plaintext
Plaintext
In cryptography, plaintext is information a sender wishes to transmit to a receiver. Cleartext is often used as a synonym. Before the computer era, plaintext most commonly meant message text in the language of the communicating parties....

) is changed, every bit of the output (ciphertext
Ciphertext
In cryptography, ciphertext is the result of encryption performed on plaintext using an algorithm, called a cipher. Ciphertext is also known as encrypted or encoded information because it contains a form of the original plaintext that is unreadable by a human or computer without the proper cipher...

) has an average of 50% probability
Probability
Probability is ordinarily used to describe an attitude of mind towards some proposition of whose truth we arenot certain. The proposition of interest is usually of the form "Will a specific event occur?" The attitude of mind is of the form "How certain are we that the event will occur?" The...

of changing. The easiest way to show why this is good is the following: consider that if we changed our 8-byte plaintext's last byte, it would only have any effect on the 8th byte of the ciphertext. This would mean that if the attacker guessed 256 different plaintext-ciphertext pairs, he would always know the last byte of every 8byte sequence we send (effectively 12.5% of all our data). Finding out 256 plaintext-ciphertext pairs is not hard at all in the internet world, given that standard protocols are used, and standard protocols have standard headers and commands (e.g. "get", "put", "mail from:", etc.) which the attacker can safely guess. On the other hand, if our cipher has this property (and is generally secure in other ways, too), the attacker would need to collect 264 (~1020) plaintext-ciphertext pairs to crack the cipher in this way.