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Comment:Add a first draft of the "Hash Policy" document.
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SHA1:6429054f8ef073b688f9842d1a097a9d444ec51a
User & Date: drh 2017-03-05 01:57:32
Context
2017-03-05
19:13
Tweaks to the hash policy document. check-in: b0d3e9cc user: drh tags: fossil-2.1
01:57
Add a first draft of the "Hash Policy" document. check-in: 6429054f user: drh tags: fossil-2.1
00:38
Automatically convert from "auto" to "sha3" if a SHA3-named artifact is received. check-in: c8870643 user: drh tags: fossil-2.1
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<title>Hash Policy</title>

<h2> Executive Summary, Or How To Avoid Reading This Article </h2>

There is much angst over the [http://www.shattered.io|Shattered attack]
against SHA1.  If you are concerned about this and its implications for
Fossil, simply upgrade to Fossil 2.0 or later and the problem will go away.
Everything will continue to work as before.  All of your legacy repositories 
will continue to work and all of your old check-ins will still have the 
same name.  Your workflow will be unchanged.

But if you are curious and want a deeper understanding of what is
going on, read on...


<h2> Introduction </h2>

The first distributed version control system (as far as this author knows)
was [http://www.monotone.ca|Monotone].  Many of the ideas behind the design
of Fossil were copied from Monotone, including the use of a SHA1 hash to
assign names to artifacts.  Git and Mercurial did the same thing.

The SHA1 hash algorithm is used only to create names for artifacts in Fossil
(and in Git, Mercurial, and Monotone).  It is not used for security.
Nevertheless, when the [http://www.shattered.io|Shattered attack] found
two different PDF files with the same SHA1 hash, many users learned that
"SHA1 is broken".  They see that Fossil (and Git, Mercurial, and Monotone)
use SHA1 and they therefore conclude that "Fossil is broken".  This is
not true, but it is a public relations problem.  So the decision
was made to migrate Fossil away from SHA1.

This article describes how that is occurring.

<h2>Use Of Hardened SHA1</h2>

In Fossil version 2.0 ([/timeline?c=version-2.0|2017-03-03]), 
the internal SHA1 implementation was changed from a generic
FIPS PUB 180-4 SHA1 implementation to a "Hardened SHA1"
&#91;[https://github.com/cr-marcstevens/sha1collisiondetection|1]&#93;
&#91;[https://marc-stevens.nl/research/papers/C13-S.pdf|2]&#93;.

The Hardened SHA1 implement automatically detects when the artifact
being hashed is specifically designed to exploit the known weaknesses
in the SHA1 algorithm, and when it detects such an attack it changes
the hash algorithm (by increasing the number of rounds in the compression
function) to make the algorithm secure again.  If the attack detection
gets a false possible, that means that Hardened SHA1 will get a different
answer than the standard FIPS PUB 180-4 SHA1, but the creators of
Hardened SHA1 (see the second paper
&#91;[https://marc-stevens.nl/research/papers/C13-S.pdf|2]&#93;)
report that the probability of a false positive is vanishingly small -
less than 1 false positive out of 10<sup><font size=1>27</font></sup>
hashes.

Hardened SHA1 is slower (and a lot bigger) but Fossil does not do that
much hashing, so performance is not really an issue.

All versions of Fossil moving forward will use Hardened SHA1.  So if
someone says "SHA1 is broken, and Fossil uses SHA1, therefore Fossil is
broken", you can rebut the argument by pointing out that Fossil uses
<em>Hardened SHA1</em> not generic SHA1 and Hardened SHA1 is <em>not</em>
broken.

<h2>Introduction Of SHA3-256</h2>

Prior to Fossil version 2.0 ([/timeline?c=version-2.0|2017-03-03]), 
all artifacts in all Fossil repositories were named
by only a SHA1 hash.
Version 2.0 expanded the Fossil file format to allow artifacts to
be named by either SHA1 or SHA3-256 hashes.
(SHA3-256 is the only variant of SHA3 that
Fossil uses for artifact naming, so for the remainder of this article
it will be called simply "SHA3".  Similarly, "Hardened SHA1" will
shortened to "SHA1" in the sequel.)

Other than permitting the use of SHA3 in addition to SHA1, there
were no file format changes in Fossil version 2.0 relative
to the previous version 1.37.  Both Fossil 2.0 and Fossil 1.37 read
and write all the same repositories and sync with one another, as long
as none of the repositories contain artifacts named using SHA3.  If
a repository does contain artifacts named using SHA3, Fossil 1.37 will
not know how to interpret those artifacts and will generate various warnings
and errors.

If newer versions of Fossil are able to use either SHA1 or SHA3 to
name artifacts, which hash algorithm is actually used?  That question
is answered by the "hash policy".  These are the supported hash policies:

<table cellpadding=10>
<tr>
<td valign='top'>sha1</td>
<td>Name all new artifacts using the (Hardened) SHA1 hash algorithm.</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign='top'>auto</td>
<td>Name new artifacts using the SHA1 hash algorithm.  But if any
artifacts are encountered which are already named using SHA3, then
automatically switch the hash policy to "sha3"</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign='top'>sha3</td>
<td>Name new artifacts using the SHA3 hash algorithm if the artifact
does not already have a SHA1 name.  If the artifact already has a SHA1
name, then continue to use the older SHA1 name.  Use SHA3 for new
artifacts that have never before been encountered.</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign='top'>sha3-only</td>
<td>Name new artifacts using the SHA3 hash algorithm even if the artifact
already has a SHA1 name.  In other words, force the use of SHA3.  This can
cause some artifacts to be added to the respository twice, once under their
SHA1 name and again under their SHA3 name.  But delta compression will
prevent that from causing repository size problems.</td>
</tr>
<tr>
<td valign='top'>shun-sha1</td>
<td>Like "sha3-only" but at this level do not accept a push of SHA1-named
artifacts.  If another Fossil instance tries to push a SHA1-named artifact,
discard and ignore it.
</tr>
</table>

For Fossil 2.0, and obviously also for Fossil 1.37 and before, the
only hash policy supported was "sha1".  All new artifacts were named
using their SHA1 hash.
Even though Fossil 2.0 was capable of understanding SHA3 hashes, it
never actually generates any SHA3 hashes.

Beginning with Fossil 2.1, the default hash policy for legacy repositories
changed to "auto".
That means Fossil 2.1 will continue to generate only SHA1 hashes until it
encounters one artifact with a SHA3 hash.  Once a single SHA3 hash is
seen, Fossil automatically switches to "sha3" mode and thereafter generates
only SHA3 hashes.

When a new repository is created by cloning, the hash policy is copied
from the parent.

For new repositories created using the
[/help?cmd=new|fossil new] command the default hash policy is "sha3".  
That means new repositories
will normally hold nothing except SHA3 hashes.  The hash policy for new
repositories can be overridden using the "--sha1" option to the
"fossil new" command.

Even after upgrading to Fossil 2.1, Fossil will continue to use nothing
but SHA1 hashes on legacy repositories, thus preserving complete 
compatibility with Fossil 1.37 and before.  If you want Fossil to go 
ahead and start using SHA3 hashes, change the hash policy to
"sha3" using a command like this:

<blockquote><verbatim>
fossil hash-policy sha3
</verbatim></blockquote>

The next check-in will use a SHA3 hash.  And when that check-in is pushed
to colleagues, their copies of Fossil will see the new SHA3-named artifact
and automatically convert to SHA3 as well.

Of course, if some members of your team stubbornly refuse to upgrade past
Fossil 1.37, you should avoid changing the hash policy and creating
artifacts with SHA3 names, because once you do that your recalcitrant
coworkers will no longer be able to collaborate.

<h2>A Pure SHA3 Future</h2>

At some point in the future, years from now, after everybody has finally
upgraded to Fossil 2.0 or later, the default hash policy will probably
change to "sha3", or maybe even "shun-sha1".  By the time that happens,
you will probably already be using SHA3 on all your projects and so you
are unlikely to notice.