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The Simple Commandments You Should Learn to Avoid Leaking Secrets

06 Dec, 2017 by Dr Michael Scott

Often a competent and experienced software engineer is tasked to implement a cryptographic algorithm. Unfortunately they may be unaware of what we call side-channels attacks. For example normally a programmer couldn’t care less about the power consumption profile of their running program. However in many situations where cryptography is deployed an attacker is in a position to monitor power consumption. And the power consumption profile may leak information about a secret cryptographic key.…

Stop the Hackers: Here's How to Remove Your Password Database

30 Nov, 2017 by MIRACL Blogger

There are two key questions anyone associated with business and data need to ask themselves: Does our company still have a password database and, if so Why? The simple fact is that there is no reason for any company to have a password database anymore. It is now estimated that 81% of all hacking related breaches involve the use of stolen or weak credentials (source: DIBR). And we need to put this in the context of 8 billion authentication credentials having been stolen since 2013, with all that this implies for damage to a company’s business and brand reputation.…

Post Quantum Identity Based Encryption

13 Nov, 2017 by Dr Michael Scott

In our last blog, “Post Quantum Cryptography for Grandparents”, (which you really need to read first before reading this one) we pointed out that Post-Quantum cryptography as based on the Ring Learning with Errors (RLWE) problem, can actually be quite easy to understand, despite its rather terrifying terminology. Its based on this one-way function B=As+e Where A and B are “large” polynomials and s and e are “small” polynomials. Given A , s and e , its easy to calculate B, its just a multiplication followed by an addition.…

How to Explain Post Quantum Cryptography to Anyone

02 Oct, 2017 by Dr Michael Scott

Its actually not as complicated as it sounds. Let’s get the maths over with first. Remember polynomials? (x+1)(x+1)=x2+2x+1 This would be an example of two first degree polynomials being multiplied together to create a second degree polynomial (or quadratic). In general two n-th degree polynomials when multiplied together create a 2n-th degree polynomial result. Polynomials can also be added (3x+5)+(5x+6) = 8x+11 Don’t tell me that’s hard! For the polynomial 8x+11, the coefficients are 8 and 11.…

First Hybrid, then fully Post Quantum

15 Aug, 2017 by Dr Michael Scott

As we are all aware we are on the cusp of a major revolution in the auto-mobile industry. In 20 years we will all be driving electric cars and the good old petrol engine will be something we visit in museums. Already governments are legislating, and auto makers are revamping their assembly lines, to be ready in good time. In the meantime the industry has introduced a slew of “hybrid” models, which have two engines, one petrol and one electrical.…

PSD2 - What Will Your Bank Do?

30 May, 2017 by MIRACL Blogger

In 2018, PSD2, the revised Payment Service Directive will be implemented which will change banking as we know it. Banks and payment services will be required to comply with new legislation which aims to improve innovation, reinforce consumer protection, and improve the security of internet payments and account access within the EU and EEA. What is PSD2? The Payment Services Directive is an EU Directive, administered by the European Banking Authority to regulate payment services and providers.…

Bad Medicine - The Evolution of Computer Security

18 May, 2017 by Dr Michael Scott

It’s interesting to compare progress in Computer Security with progress in Medicine Science. Think of computing technology as being analogous to the human body, and under attack from multiple potentially damaging external forces. Of course we have for years talked about computer “viruses”, so the comparison is a natural one. So if we were to look at progress in medical science and progress in computer security, hoping to draw optimistic conclusions from the comparison, what would we find?…

Why Does Your Business Still Have This Cyber Security Risk?

03 May, 2017 by MIRACL Blogger

In today’s online world of increasing digital crime, internet fraud and database breaches, businesses are left with the growing worry about protecting their online commerce and customers. When authentication goes bad For years, industry experts have warned that passwords do not provide strong enough security as a sole line of defense against the ever escalating cyber security threats designed to exploit vulnerabilities with stored authentication credentials. Usernames and passwords have proven time and again to be a weak solution for authentication, and the databases where they are stored are a hacker’s dream come true.…

Conditioning the Blockchain

25 Apr, 2017 by Dr Michael Scott

As described in my last posting on the ‘Essence of the Blockchain’, the block-chain is just a public ledger supported by the power of the cryptographic hash function. From a “genesis” block, a chain of blocks propagates onwards. Due to the one-wayness of the hash function, it can never be reversed and the contents of a prior block can never be changed. However we can add new blocks on to the end of it.…

In Praise of the Humble PIN, Authentication that works for the Web.

19 Apr, 2017 by Dr Michael Scott

By which I mean the Personal Identification Number. Most days we use it in conjunction with our ATM card to perform relatively large value transactions. As such its a pretty proven way of authenticating ourselves. So if we already have the authentication problem solved, why don’t we use the same method when authenticating to services on the Web? Why do we persist with the much more inconvenient and insecure Username and Password combination, rather than a Card and PIN number type of solution?…

A Note on the Implementation of Format Preserving Encryption Modes

01 Nov, 2016 by Dr Michael Scott

The American National Institute for Standards in Technology (NIST) is considering proposals for several modes of operation for Format Preserving Encryption (FPE). The idea behind FPE is quite simple: A plaintext should encipher to a ciphertext with exactly the same format and length. The classic example would be a credit card number, in which case the 18 decimal digit plaintext should encrypt to an 18 decimal digit ciphertext. This is clearly very convenient.…

Ed3363 (HighFive) – An alternative Elliptic Curve

25 Oct, 2016 by Dr Michael Scott

We propose a new Elliptic curve at a security level significantly greater than the standard 128 bits, that fills a gap in current proposals while bucking the expected security vs cost curve by exploiting the new trick recently described by Granger and Scott. This essentially reduces the cost of field multiplication to that of a field squaring. Download paper and learn about an alternative Elliptic Curve 1 Introduction If a non-cryptographer were asked to guess how much stronger TOP SECRET cryptography is compared with commercial strength cryptography, I would imagine that most would suggest a hundred times, maybe a thousand times, maybe even a million times.…