Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Safer, better, faster: addressing cryptography’s big challenges

05.12.2008
Every time you use a credit card, access your bank account online or send secure email cryptography comes into play. But as computers become more powerful, network speeds increase and data storage grows, the current methods of protecting information are being challenged.

Once shrouded in secrecy, cryptography (using mathematical algorithms to secure, hide and authenticate data) has come out into the light in the current digital era. No longer restricted – in Western countries at least – by tight usage and export controls, cryptographers are now collaborating more extensively than ever before to create better algorithms and faster encryption methods to protect the vast volumes of data being generated by governments, businesses and citizens.

In many ways, European researchers are leading the way in addressing the big challenges facing the future of information and data security. “There are three big issues facing cryptographers,” says Bart Preneel, a professor at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and president of the International Association for Cryptologic Research. “Cost, speed and long-term security.”

The first two problems are closely interconnected, a consequence of the trend towards storing more information in more distributed systems, from the flash drives and smart cards in your pocket, to the computer in your home or the network at your office. Cost, in this sense, refers not only to the cost of hardware capable of robust encryption, but also the energy cost of running cryptographic processes on increasingly tiny, low-power devices. Cryptographic programmes also need to be faster if they are to secure the vast amount of information now being stored.

The 10 terabyte question

“In a few years we will have devices in our pockets with 10 terabytes of storage capacity – current methods are far too slow to encrypt that amount of data practically,” Preneel notes.

Time is also a problem in another sense. A lot of data being generated today will need to be kept secure for decades or even centuries to come, but history has shown that gains in computer processing power make it easier to crack cryptographic codes. Algorithms developed in the 1970s, for example, can now be readily broken by researchers.

“We may want to store medical information securely for a long time, not just for the duration of someone’s life, but in the case of DNA data for the lifetime of their children and grandchildren as well,” Preneel says.

Those challenges and others were addressed by an international network of researchers led by Preneel. With funding from the EU, the ECRYPT network of excellence brought together 32 leading research institutes, universities and companies to produce some of the most valuable contemporary research on cryptography, generating 10 percent of all papers and research articles in the information security field published worldwide over the last four years.

Structured into five core research areas, dubbed “virtual laboratories,” the researchers developed improved cryptographic algorithms, ciphers and hash functions, studied cryptographic protocols and implementation methods, and worked on more robust algorithms for digital watermarking.

Among their main achievements are eight new algorithms with the capacity to outperform AES, the Advanced Encryption Standard developed by two Belgian researchers in the 1990s and subsequently adopted by the US government to protect classified information. They also developed a new and improved method for creating cryptographic protocols based on game theory, and created lightweight cryptographic algorithms for use in low-power, low-computing-capacity devices such as smart cards and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

Three competitions of the kind that sparked innovation in digital cryptography in the 1970s and 80s were also organised to find winning applications in the fields of stream ciphers, cryptographic software benchmarking and digital watermarking.

Towards real-world applications

The researchers’ work will all but certainly feed into commercial cryptographic applications over the coming years. A block cipher, for example, is due to be used on commercial RFID technology, while another application has been developed by Danish project partner Aarhus University for secure auctions in the agricultural sector.

Many of the researchers are continuing their work in a second project, ECRYPT II, which began in August 2008. Whereas ECRYPT received funding under the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for Research (FP6, 2002-2006), the follow-up initiative is being funded under FP7 (2007-2013). The new project will deepen research in core areas that were addressed more broadly by the first initiative.

“We know that our studies have been read by banks, businesses and governments around the world, but because we made the information publicly available we don’t know how they are using it,” Preneel says.

Cryptography has not, therefore, shed its veil of secrecy entirely.
This is part one of a two-part series on ECRYPT.

Christian Nielsen | alfa
Further information:
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults
http://cordis.europa.eu/ictresults/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/90260

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Study suggests buried Internet infrastructure at risk as sea levels rise
17.07.2018 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers
17.07.2018 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>