One property to rule them all? On the limits of trade-offs for S-boxes

Marko Djurasevic, Domagoj Jakobovic, Stjepan Picek

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeConference contributionScientificpeer-review

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Substitution boxes (S-boxes) are nonlinear mappings that represent one of the core parts of many cryptographic algorithms (ciphers). If S-box does not possess good properties, a cipher would be susceptible to attacks. To design suitable S-boxes, we can use heuristics as it allows significant freedom in the selection of required cryptographic properties. Unfortunately, with heuristics, one is seldom sure how good a trade-off between cryptographic properties is reached or if optimizing for one property optimizes implicitly for another property. In this paper, we consider what is to the best of our knowledge, the most detailed analysis of trade-offs among S-box cryptographic properties. More precisely, we ask questions if one property is optimized, what is the worst possible value for some other property, and what happens if all properties are optimized. Our results show that while it is possible to reach a large variety of possible solutions, optimizing for a certain property would commonly result in good values for other properties. In turn, this suggests that a single-objective approach should be a method of choice unless some precise values for multiple properties are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGECCO 2020
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 2020 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-7128-5
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event2020 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2020 - Cancun, Mexico
Duration: 8 Jul 202012 Jul 2020


Conference2020 Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference, GECCO 2020


  • Cryptography
  • Evolutionary algorithms
  • S-boxes
  • Trade-off

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