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Cybersecurity

Cryptographers Develop Encryption Method Resistant to Future Quantum Attacks

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Cryptographers are working on new encryption methods able to protect today’s Internet communications from future quantum computers that can be able to break today’s cryptography techniques. The researchers have developed upgrades to the Internet’s core encryption protocol that will prevent quantum computer users from intercepting Internet communications.

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A research paper authored by Douglas Stebila from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Joppe Bos from NXP Semiconductors, and Craig Costello and Michael Naehrig from Microsoft Research, presented at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, describes cryptographic primitives that could offer resilience against attacks by quantum computers. The paper, titled “Post-quantum key exchange for the TLS protocol from the ring learning with errors problem,” is freely available online.

Early Days of Post-Quantum Cryptography

Code breakingQuantum computers can process information in ways that have no equivalent in classical computing by exploiting subtle quantum phenomena. Quantum computers may theoretically be able to solve certain problems – including code breaking – much faster than classical computer and perform computations that would be otherwise impossible. This explains the enthusiasm of researchers, venture capitalists, and the intelligence community for the first quantum computing demonstrations.

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Now important players in both government and industry want to move quantum computing beyond the research stage and build operational, fault tolerant, scalable quantum computers. Therefore, it seems likely that quantum computers, able to break today’s best Internet encryption, will be developed.

“Quantum computers will be able to solve complex scientific problems, like simulating chemical reactions, much faster than today’s most powerful supercomputers, but they’ll also be able to break much of the public key cryptography that’s used to protect Internet, mobile telephone, and other electronic communication,” said Stebila. “Though quantum computers don’t exist yet, they could be used to retroactively decrypt past transmissions. That’s why it’s important that we start updating our communication infrastructure.”

We’ve tested some new techniques and found some very promising first steps towards future-proofing Internet encryption.

The cryptographers developed developed a new version of the Transport Layer Security (TLS) standard that incorporates a recently developed mathematical technique called “ring learning with errors problem,” which could resist quantum attacks.

“Our cryptographically secure implementation, aimed at the 128-bit security level, reveals that the performance price when switching from non-quantum-safe key exchange is not too high,” say the researchers. “The resulting provably secure construction provides post-quantum forward secrecy yet remains practical, both in terms of efficiency and in terms of its integration with the widely-deployed RSA-based public key authentication infrastructure.”

Post-quantum cryptography is still in its early days. Future work will include optimization of parameter sizes, implementations, and comparisons between post-quantum primitives, conclude the researchers.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Tom Kelting

    August 19, 2015 at 5:51 am

    The lead article for Aug 18, about net transport layer upgrade to withstand quantum decyption algorithms, makes me want to gasp with (tentative) relief.
    The underlying problem – that of quantum decryption – has kept me awake at night for months. It is the most serious, potentially catastrophic issue facing our civilization.

    The sudden loss of effective cryptography, cryptography in which the general public has faith; the military can use reliably; and business, retail and the financial sectors can use ..would be nothing less than catastrophic. It would be a game ender for modern civilization — equivalent only to the loss of all electricity worldwide. (Perhaps worse, actually.)

    This is a ray of hope. If it pans out, I can start breathing again.

  2. Max Lundgren

    August 19, 2015 at 9:50 am

    It is possible to already secure data from intrusion attempts and with existing encryption methods, which prevents hacking and eavesdropping.

    It should be noted that there is an Economic and Technical reason that today it is not developing secure systems, the so-called certificate encryption keys on the market today have card key and there with less security. technically like larger companies and banks do not finance new secure systems. One known card companies in the United States have such a low encryption (des3) that the method used to secure any e-mail in the rest of the world. But the company is probably so large that it would probably infringe on the profit margin, rather secure customer transactions. It also required an upgrade of servers that can handle the load of encryption for data traffic.

    This upgrade of servers is often the biggest reason to wait and keep existing systems. Some of which, however, economic opportunity and knowledge to upgrade their systems are government and defense. But they have the utmost interest to keep low key and security, then they can more easily monitor the malicious data traffic.

    The obstacle of using these is that they are not going to be approved by NIST to be used or to be exported.

  3. Jacob Eliosoff

    August 20, 2015 at 5:45 am

    No disrespect to the researchers, but post-quantum (that is, quantum-safe) cryptography is not a brand new field. See eg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-quantum_cryptography or the 2008 book of that name. Although many old algorithms (eg RSA) are potentially vulnerable to quantum computers, it’s been known for at least a decade that there are usable algorithms that aren’t.

  4. Luiz Carvalho

    August 21, 2015 at 11:05 am

    If the authors did a little background research they would realize that this work is over a year old and is just a paper on an implementation of some cryptography published by published by Chris Peikert of Georgia Tech earlier that year. Even that paper is mostly a consolidation of results developed by Chris Peikert and other Lattice researchers since 2010. Its important for readers to know that the subject of this article is not some breakthrough in post quantum cryptography but rather a well done extension of a deep and diverse body of research. This is the second time this summer I have seen media outlets surf the internet and cite this work as a “new” result. It is good professional work but its wrong to call it new.

  5. disqus_72GXGq6drQ

    October 17, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Back n the day Dr Raymond Hill wrote a book on Basic Coding Theory – if still available worth a read!

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Breaches

Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet

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Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.

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Massive Data Breach

According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.

The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.

At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.

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“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”

Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.

Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp

The Fall of Uber?

Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.

The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.

Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”

Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.

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Cybersecurity

The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency

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For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.

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The Pirates Are At It Again

The Pirate Bay has been caught using software called Coinhive, a JavaScript library that essentially serves as a cryptocurrency miner. It basically connects to visitors’ computers to mine Monero, one of the world’s most profitable cryptocurrencies.

The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”

Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.

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Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.

CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors  know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.

“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.

The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.

Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally

The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.

Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.

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Breaches

Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility

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Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.

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Ethereum Forges Higher Path

Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.

At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.

The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.

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Fractured Bitcoin Community

Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.

Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.

Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.

Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.

Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist

Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.

In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.

The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.

ETH/USD (Bitfinex)

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