The famous Leftover Hash Lemma (LHL) states that (almost) universal hash functions are good randomness extractors. Despite its numerous applications, LHL-based extractors suffer from the following two drawbacks:
Quite surprisingly, we show that both limitations of the LHL — large entropy loss and large seed — can often be overcome (or, at least, mitigated) in various quite general scenarios. First, we show that entropy loss could be reduced to L=log(1/e) for the setting of deriving secret keys for most cryptographic applications, including signatures/MACs, CPA/CCA-secure encryption, etc. Specifically, the security of these schemes gracefully degrades from e to at most e + sqrt(e * 2-L). (Notice that, unlike standard LHL, this bound is meaningful even for negative entropy loss, when we extract more bits than the the min-entropy we have!) Second, we study the soundness of the natural *expand-then-extract* approach, where one uses a pseudorandom generator (PRG) to expand a short 'input seed' S into a longer 'output seed' S', and then use the resulting S' as the seed required by the LHL (or, more generally, any randomness extractor). Unfortunately, we show that, in general, expand-then-extract approach is not sound if the Decisional Diffie-Hellman assumption is true.
Despite that, we show that it is sound either: (1) when extracting a 'small' (logarithmic in the security of the PRG) number of bits; or (2) in *minicrypt*. Implication (2) suggests that the sample-then-extract approach is likely secure when used with 'practical' PRGs, despite lacking a reductionist proof of security!
The paper will appear at CRYPTO 2011 and can be found at http://eprint.iacr.org/2011/088