Possible problems while using Trfcrypt

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Some remarks regarding the work with binary data (and this package) in general:

  1. Whatever you do, don't forget to switch the used channels into binary mode, i.e. execute ``fconfigure <channel> -translation binary''. Not doing this will produce all kind of strange errors, even on unix machines, as the default translation mode (``auto'') will not only convert CR LF into LF, but a single CR as well!
  2. Using transformation procedures (as in this package) introduces an additional level of buffering because they are permitted to buffer all characters they are unable to process immediately. This may mess up especially interprocess communication, a notoriously problematic field. A not so improbable scenario would be the addition of encryption to enhance security. Using a blockcipher here may lead to the following problem (a line-oriented protocol is assumed):
    • The sender produces a line and writes it into the channel, waiting for a response from the receiver afterward.
    • The channel system invokes the blockcipher to encrypt the line, but not all characters are encrypted due to the length of the line not being a multiple of the blocksize. Especially the EOL-character is neither encrypted, nor transmitted.
    • The receiver decrypts the blocks it got, then waits for the EOL character.
    • DEADLOCK
    The solution here would be the usage of a blockcipher in CFB mode and shift = 1 or that of a stream cipher, as both of these would encrypt single characters without buffering. Data compression is another good candidate for such a situation. Because of this I decided to include the number of characters buffered by a certain transformation in its description.

© Andreas Kupries
Last update at Sun Jul 18 00:35:49 MEST 1999