The first cryptographic algorithms resistant to quantum computation announced

We currently envision ourselves living in eternal limbo with regards to our ability to cryptographically secure data. But the future is not so rosy: not too far away, perhaps a decade from now, no one knows exactly how long, the encryption that protects banking transactions, chat messages and medical records from prying eyes will break like the shell. of an egg with the advent of quantum computing . Fortunately, a US government agency has named four alternative encryption schemes to at least begin averting this crypto apocalypse.

This is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the US Department of Commerce, which has chosen the first set of cryptographic algorithms resistant to future quantum computation , and therefore designed to "withstand the quantum onslaught".

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Algorithms against quantum computing

According to Graham Steel, CEO of Cryptosense, a company that makes cryptographic management software:

“NIST's choices certainly matter because many large companies have to conform to NIST standards even if their crypto bosses disagree with their choices. But that said, I personally believe that their choices are based on sound reasoning, given what we know right now about the safety of these various math problems and the trade-off with performance. "

Currently, internet communications are encrypted using some asymmetric (or public key) encryption systems. These are based on the RSA, Diffie-Hellman and Diffie-Hellman elliptic curve algorithms, and base their effectiveness on the complexity of the mathematics behind their logic to protect our sensitive data . These mathematical problems are generally based on the factoring of large complex numbers , of which an algorithm is currently unknown to carry out these calculations efficiently and quickly, requiring a current computer (several) years, if not centuries, of calculations.

For the moment, with classical computation, we have succeeded in factoring an 829-bit integer. A number struggle with the lengths that are normally used in public key systems, where it is classic to find 4096 bit keys. Complicating matters further is an idealogical threat following the motto of “hack now, decrypt later,” in which cybercriminals collect sensitive encrypted data sent today in hopes of decrypting it in the future when quantum computing becomes available.

Quantum computing is still in the experimental stage , but the results have already made it clear that it can instantly solve the same mathematical problems. As a result, increasing the size of the keys doesn't help. In particular, there are algorithms that perform this function. An example is the Shor Algorithm, a quantum computing technique developed in 1994 by the American mathematician Peter Shor, and is able to work with orders of magnitude faster than classical algorithms in solving discrete integer and logarithm factorization problems.

NIST thus announces the cryptographic technologies that will be used in the post-quantum era (PQC), including the CRYSTALS-Kyber algorithm for general cryptography and CRYSTALS-Dilitio, FALCON and SPHINCS + for digital signatures.

"Three of the selected algorithms are based on a family of mathematical problems called structured lattices, while SPHINCS + uses hash functions," NIST, which initiated the standardization process in January 2017, said in a statement.

The four quantum algorithms chosen by NIST are based on mathematical problems that are difficult to solve on both classical and quantum computers , thus protecting data from cryptanalytic attacks. The agency also plans to include four more algorithms before finalizing the post-quantum cryptographic standard, a process that is expected to be completed in about two years.

That said, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), along with NIST, is “strongly” recommending organizations to start preparing for the transition by following the Post-Quantum Cryptography Roadmap.

The article Announced the first cryptographic algorithms resistant to quantum computation was written on: Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .