Revamped knapsack code offers online security for the future
Washington State University mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer.
Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.
The findings were recently published in the journal The Fibonacci Quarterly.
Quantum computers are near
Quantum computers operate on the subatomic level and theoretically provide processing power that is millions, if not billions of times faster than silicon-based computers. Several companies are in the race to develop quantum computers including Google.
Internet security is no match for a quantum computer, said Nathan Hamlin, instructor and director of the WSU Math Learning Center. That could spell future trouble for online transactions ranging from buying a book on Amazon to simply sending an email.
Hamlin said quantum computers would have no trouble breaking present security codes, which rely on public key encryption to protect the exchanges.
In a nutshell, public key code uses one public “key” for encryption and a second private “key” for decoding. The system is based on the factoring of impossibly large numbers and, so far, has done a good job keeping computers safe from hackers.
Quantum computers, however, can factor these large numbers very quickly, Hamlin said. But problems like the knapsack code slow them down.
Fortunately, many of the large data breaches in recent years are the result of employee carelessness or bribes and not of cracking the public key encryption code, he said.
A new public key code
Looking to protect future online information, Hamlin and retired mathematics professor William Webb turned to the long-abandoned knapsack code. To bring it up to quantum level – and possibly use it as a new type of public key encryption – the researchers first engineered new numbering systems for the code.
“We used alternate ways of representing numbers,” said Hamlin.
In effect, they created new digital systems with much greater complexity than society’s day-to-day decimal and binary systems.
“By using very complicated number strings, we produced a new version of the knapsack code that can’t be broken by the usual cyber attack methods,” said Webb.
As a result, Hamlin and Webb believe the redesigned knapsack code could offer a viable alternative for public key encryption with quantum computing.
The knapsack problem is a theoretical puzzle dating back to at least 1897 and is very difficult to solve in its most general form.
“Basically, it asks if you have one big number (the knapsack) and lots of small numbers (objects), what is the subset of small numbers (or objects) that will perfectly fill the knapsack? The concept was used to create a code called the knapsack code,” explained Webb.
“The knapsack code was originally suggested as a tool for public key encryption in the 1970s, but it was broken by two different methods and people lost interest in it,” he said.
Webb’s idea to bring it out of storage was at first an intellectual exercise.
“Knapsack is a simple, elegant code but it was broken,” said Webb. “We wondered if it could be fixed and redesigned to be secure. The challenge was intriguing.”
Hamlin said they made corrections at the fundamental level of the code, which repaired many of its weak spots. This let it block a greater array of cyber attacks, including those using basis reduction, one of the decoding methods used to break the original knapsack code, he said.
“Basis reduction is a big hammer to use against this code and, after testing, we think it’s secure against this type of attack and would offer an alternative code for quantum computing,” Hamlin said.
The Latest on: Cybersecurity
via Google News
The Latest on: Cybersecurity
- Former Cybersecurity Chief Shoots Down ‘Farcical Claims’ of Election Fraud by Trump Campaign in ’60 Minutes’ Previewon November 27, 2020 at 5:57 pm
Former DHS cybersecurity chief Chris Krebs shoots down, one by one, 'farcical claims' of election fraud by Trump campaign in '60 Minutes' preview ...
- Quinnipiac University cybersecurity expert offers safety tips for shopping on Cyber Mondayon November 27, 2020 at 5:51 pm
Fred Scholl, director of Quinnipiac University’s online Master of Science in Cybersecurity program, joins News 8 to discuss safety shopping tips on Cyber Monday.
- Top cybersecurity official fired by Trump says he was most upset he didn't get to say goodbye to teamon November 27, 2020 at 9:06 am
Christopher Krebs, the ex-director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said he regrets not being able to say goodbye to his team prior to his dismissal on Nov. 17.
- Top cybersecurity official fired by Trump says presidential vote count was legit and Twitter dismissal was ‘not how I wanted to go out’on November 27, 2020 at 7:02 am
Trump canned Krebs in a Nov. 17 tweet filled with claims about the election in which he was defeated by Biden in both the popular and electoral votes.
- Cybersecurity Predictions for 2021: Robot Overlords No, Connected Car Hacks Yeson November 27, 2020 at 5:00 am
While 2021 will present evolving threats and new challenges, it will also offer new tools and technologies that will we hope shift the balance towards the defense.
- Willyama's role in helping Indigenous Australians secure a career in cybersecurityon November 25, 2020 at 8:36 pm
Willyama Services might be in the IT and cybersecurity business, but founder Kieran Hynes, a Woromi man from the Willyama region at Broken Hill, believes because it's a 100% Aboriginal-owned business, ...
- Government watchdog urges policymakers to boost cybersecurity for 5G networkson November 25, 2020 at 1:44 pm
The Government Accountability Office (GAO), a federal watchdog agency, recommended this week that policymakers consider creating cybersecurity standards to ensure a safe rollout of fifth generation, ...
- Why Data Protection And Cybersecurity Can't Be Separate Functionson November 25, 2020 at 4:20 am
Because data breaches affect various aspects of an organization’s life cycle, the response should be multilateral. In other words, both cybersecurity and data protection specialists should combine ...
- The Cybersecurity 202: China is likely to be Biden’s biggest cybersecurity challengeon November 25, 2020 at 4:19 am
China is shaping up to be the Biden administration’s biggest cybersecurity headache. In nearly every sphere of digital conflict, China will pose the greatest challenge during the next four years, from ...
- The Cybersecurity 202: Biden’s DHS pick adds cybersecurity chops to the incoming administrationon November 24, 2020 at 4:26 am
President-elect Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security will bring a boatload of cybersecurity experience to the job. Alejandro Mayorkas worked on numerous international ...
via Bing News