IoT Security Blog

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Quantum Computing’s Threat to Current Cryptosystems

The computers and communication systems we use today rely on cryptographic systems commonly based on factoring large numbers or finding discrete logarithms. Both these methods are secure because conventional computers lack the sheer computational power needed to break them. For example, a recent factoring for RSA with a long key was RSA-220 (220 decimal digits, or 729 bits), which took an estimated 370 CPU years.  The largest published factoring to date was 768 bits long, equivalent to only 64-bits of security, slightly better security than single-DES.   With conventional computers, efforts to break these systems will continue to take a significant amount of time and energy.

A sufficiently powerful quantum computer will easily defeat modern encryption systems through known attacks, nearly instantly. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) reported in April 2016 that researchers estimate that in the near future, it would be possible to build a quantum computer capable of breaking a 2048-bit RSA cryptosystem in a matter of hours.

It’s generally agreed that quantum computers promise to render current cryptographic systems obsolete. What’s worse, the period in which this promise might be realized is relatively short. Although no one has an exact delivery date, quantum computers may be available in the next ten to fifteen years. Nation-states and large institutions, which could include bad actors, will be on the forefront of quantum computer implementation. There is a pressing need for new cryptographic algorithms that are “quantum resistant.” In fact, the National Security Agency is recommending that all vendors that sell to National Security System operators start transitioning to quantum-resistant algorithms.

SecureRF offers one of the currently known quantum-resistant asymmetric protocols. The foundation of our methods is based on our quantum-resistant one-way function, E-Multiplication. This function is based, in turn, on Group Theoretic Cryptography techniques which not only run faster than the alternative methods, but also require fewer resources (code and runtime RAM) and the keys of SecureRF’s methods are shorter than the other quantum-resistant alternatives.

Our Group Theoretic Cryptography methods are the world’s first linear-in-time algorithms, and are used in several of our current products and solutions. This is important in the face of the second known quantum attack, Grover’s Quantum Search Algorithm, because doubling the security level to counteract Grover only doubles the work required, whereas many other methods require a significantly larger increase. The security of SecureRF’s methods is not based on any computational problem known to be susceptible to a quantum computing attack.

Contact us to find out more about SecureRF’s quantum-resistant solutions for low-resource devices.