What If the Cryptography Underlying the Internet Fell Apart?
Blog Article Published: 05/23/2018
By Roberta Faux, Director of Research, Envieta Without the encryption used to secure passwords for logging in to services like Paypal, Gmail, or Facebook, a user is left vulnerable to attack. Online security is becoming fundamental to life in the 21st century. Once quantum computing is achieved, all the secret keys we use to secure our online life are in jeopardy. The CSA Quantum-Safe Security Working Group has produced a new primer on the future of cryptography. This paper, “The State of Post-Quantum Cryptography,” is aimed at helping non-technical corporate executives understand what the impact of quantum computers on today’s security infrastructure will be. Some topics covered include: –What Is Post-Quantum Cryptography –Breaking Public Key Cryptography –Key Exchange & Digital Signatures –Quantum Safe Alternative –Transition Planning for Quantum-Resistant Future Quantum Computers Are Coming Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Intel, as well as numerous well-funded startups, are making significant progress toward quantum computers. Scientists around the world are investigating a variety of technologies to make quantum computers real. While no one is sure when (or even if) quantum computers will be created, some experts believe that within 10 years a quantum computer capable of breaking today’s cryptography could exist. Effects on Global Public Key Infrastructure Quantum computing strikes at the heart of the security of the global public key infrastructure (PKI). PKI establishes secure keys for bidirectional encrypted communications over an insecure network. PKI authenticates the identity of information senders and receivers, as well as protects data from manipulation. The two primary public key algorithms used in the global PKI are RSA and Elliptic Curve Cryptography. A quantum computer would easily break these algorithms. The security of these algorithms is based on intractably hard mathematical problems in number theory. However, they are only intractable for a classical computer, where bits can have only one value (a 1 or a 0). In a quantum computer, where k bits represent not one but 2^k values, RSA and Elliptic Curve cryptography can be solved in polynomial time using an algorithm called Shor’s algorithm. If quantum computers can scale to work on even tens of thousands of bits, today’s public key cryptography becomes immediately insecure. Post-Quantum Cryptography Fortunately, there are cryptographically hard problems that are believed to be secure even from quantum attacks. These crypto-systems are known as post-quantum or quantum-resistant cryptography. In recent years, post-quantum cryptography has received an increasing amount of attention in academic communities as well as from industry. Cryptographers have been designing new algorithms to provide quantum-safe security. Proposed algorithms are based on a number of underlying hard problems widely believed to be resistant to attacks even with quantum computers. These fall into the following classes:
- Multivariate cryptography
- Hash-based cryptography
- Code-based cryptography
- Supersingular elliptic curve isogeny cryptography
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