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
- Financial advisors need to put cybersecurity plans to the teston November 20, 2019 at 10:01 am
Just in the past month, Scott Van Den Berg, president of Century Management Financial Advisors, has added cybersecurity to the firm's insurance coverage. Now, in the event there is some kind of breach ...
- Can machine learning stop sophisticated email scams? This cybersecurity company thinks so.on November 20, 2019 at 5:14 am
A cybersecurity startup launched a new platform Tuesday designed to thwart sophisticated scams by identifying abnormal emailing behaviors. Aptly named Abnormal Security, the San Francisco startup aims ...
- California's IoT Security Law: Why It Matters And The Meaning Of 'Reasonable Cybersecurity'on November 20, 2019 at 4:45 am
California has taken steps to reduce this risk, and on January 1, 2020, the state’s new IoT Security Law will go into effect, which is the first of its kind, not only in California, but in the entire ...
- The Cybersecurity 202: The White House needs a 5G czar to win the race to secure next-generation networks, senators warnon November 20, 2019 at 4:30 am
The senators’ call echoes a bill the House Commerce Committee is considering that also demands a national 5G strategy. You are reading The Cybersecurity 202, our must-read newsletter on cybersecurity ...
- Cybersecurity startup CyCognito raises $18M in Series A fundingon November 20, 2019 at 2:47 am
CyCognito, a cybersecurity platform that aims to give visibility into a company’s security weak spots, has raised $18 million in its Series A round of funding. Lightspeed Partners led the fundraise, ...
- Cybersecurity Market For Cars Market Research and Technology Advancements 2019on November 20, 2019 at 1:42 am
Nov 20, 2019 (Market Insight Reports via COMTEX) -- Cybersecurity Market For Cars market has been thoroughly scrutinized and then carefully demarcated by geographic locations which are based on major ...
- CI Security raises another $6.4M to help hospitals implement cybersecurity techon November 19, 2019 at 11:08 pm
New funding: CI Security, a 85-person cybersecurity startup with offices in Seattle, Bremerton, and Ellensburg, Wash., has raised an additional $6.4 million, adding to its $16 million Series B round.
- IBM launches Cloud Pak for Security to boost cybersecurity response in hybrid environmentson November 19, 2019 at 9:01 pm
IBM has launched Cloud Pak for Security, a new platform for tackling cybersecurity threats across multicloud and hybrid environments. On Wednesday, the tech giant said the new system, available today, ...
- Cybersecurity firms form coalition to fight stalkerwareon November 19, 2019 at 5:00 am
Cybersecurity companies are partnering with domestic violence prevention organizations to take on stalkerware -- tools widely used by abusive partners to track victims without their knowledge. In ...
- NAB's AU$150m annual cybersecurity spend set to increaseon November 18, 2019 at 4:38 pm
The National Australia Bank has revealed it spends around AU$100-AU$150 million annually on cybersecurity, with the exact figure growing exponentially each year. The red and black bank's newly minted ...
via Bing News