CryptographyAre cryptographic systems secure?

Published 29 June 2011

Cryptography is widely used to hide information and applications include cash machines, computer passwords, and Internet communications; a new research project, using a 2 million Euro grant, will examine the various methods to show cryptographic protocols

Cryptography is widely used to hide information and applications include cash machines, computer passwords, and Internet communications. A new research project, using a €2 million grant, will examine the various methods to show cryptographic protocols.

The European Research Council advanced grant has been awarded to Professor Nigel Smart in the University of Bristol’s Department of Computer Science for his project “Cryptographic research involving practical and theoretical outlooks.”

A Bristol University release reports that the aim of the project is to examine a range of topics in cryptography, from the speculative and long-term through to the more applied areas. The project will focus on advanced cryptographic protocols; which are mechanisms to enable various security related functions, such as identifying who you are, securing data, or performing a given operation securely.

Nigel Smart, Professor of Cryptology, said: “It is really exciting to obtain such a large and prestigious award. The grant will enable the cryptography group to consolidate the existing work in these areas, and then to tackle more adventurous and long-term research challenges.”

The protocols that will be examined include those currently in use, such as underlying mobile phone and Internet communications, as well as emerging application areas such as electronic voting and multi-party computation.

The project will examine areas such as fully homomorphic encryption, multi-party computation, protocol design and analysis, privacy preserving mechanisms, and look at deployed protocols such as transport layer security (TLS), a cryptographic protocol that is used to secure Web (http) connections, universal mobile telecommunications system (UMTS), a third generation mobile cellular technology for networks based on the global system for mobile communications (GSM) standard, and others.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, Head of the Merchant Venturers School of Engineering, added: “Bristol has an international reputation for its outstanding research and education activities in cryptography. This prestigious award is further confirmation of the international standing of Professor Smart and his research group.”

The European Research Council award has been given under its Physical Sciences and Engineering program. The awards are made under a Europe-wide scheme that supports exceptional, professorial-level research leaders in undertaking groundbreaking, high-impact research projects.

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