PuTTY wish arcfour

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summary: The Arcfour cipher isn't supported
class: wish: This is a request for an enhancement.
difficulty: fun: Just needs tuits, and not many of them.
priority: low: We aren't sure whether to fix this or not.
fixed-in: 2005-09-04 bcf547a069e2436abbea62e1f0d658178394a68b (0.59)

PuTTY doesn't support the "arcfour" (RC4) cipher in SSH-2. Arcfour is notable for being substantially faster than any cipher that PuTTY currently supports. Unfortunately, the way it's specified for SSH-2, without discarding the first 1024 bytes of keystream, it's rather weaker than it could be (though not dangerously so). On the other hand, not being a CBC-mode block cipher, it doesn't suffer from the problems described in ssh2-cbc-weakness.

Using arcfour (or any other stream cipher) in SSH-1 would be a very bad idea. The lack of a MAC makes it very easy for an attacker to modify the data stream.

Update: Ben Harris has written an Internet-Draft (draft-harris-ssh-arcfour-fixes, now RFC 4345) describing a way of using Arcfour reasonably securely with SSH-2, and PuTTY now implements this. Note that this document defines the "arcfour256" and "arcfour128" ciphers; PuTTY still does not support the less secure "arcfour" cipher, and we have no plans to make it do so.

(Support was first added in 2005-04-22, but uonly under private names defined in an earlier draft: "arcfour256-draft-00@putty.projects.tartarus.org" and so on. Only from 2005-09-04 do we support the IETF names, which also appear in OpenSSH from 4.2.)

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Audit trail for this wish.
(last revision of this bug record was at 2022-09-11 23:46:37 +0100)