Infineon demos post-quantum cryptography on wireless security chip

Infineon demos post-quantum cryptography on wireless security chip

Technology News |
Chipmaker Infineon claims to have implemented the world’s first post-quantum cryptograpy (PQC) on contactless security chip – the kind of chip that typically is used for passports and similar identity papers. The development opens the perspective of secure communication in the future.
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

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Due to their number crunching capacity, quantum computers have the potential to crack various currently used encryption algorithms. With the implementation at hand, Infineon said it is preparing a smooth transition from today’s security protocols to post-quantum cryptography (PQC).

 

With the implementation, Infineon claims a technological breakthrough. Experts from Infineon’s headquarters design center and the company’s competence center for contactless technology in Graz (Austria) created a system for the post-quantum key exchange on a commercially available security chip. The experts succeeded in implementing a variant of the “New Hope” cryptographic algorithm on a security chip – a particular achievement, as an Infineon spokesperson pointed out, because such a chip has only very limited hardware resources. Besides longer encryption keys compared to today’s available cryptographic processes, New Hope also bears challenges regarding computation speed. “For a PC it would not be any problem”, the spokesperson explained. “But a security chip of this kind has much less memory and works at much lower speed.” Nevertheless, the chip at hand can establish a communication channel between two parties that cannot even be cracked by a quantum computer. The New Hope algorithm has been explored by Google for a demo version of its Chrome internet browser. Unlike today’s standard cryptography, the New Hope Algorithm is not based on relatively simple mathematical operations like multiplication. Instead, it is applying a method called Ring Learning With Errors (RLWE) for the key exchange.


Post Quantum Cryptography is a term used for a class of cryptographic methods that can resist even the overwhelming computational power of quantum computers. The term should not be confused with quantum cryptography, the Infineon expert explained.

Involved in the development of the PQC chip was Infineon expert Thomas Pöppelmann who along with his research colleagues won the prestigious Facebook Internet Defense Prize 2016 for their basic research in the development of New Hope.

IT security experts expect that quantum computers which will be commercially available within the next 15 to 20 years will be able to successfully attack even today’s most secure encryption algorithms such as RSA and ECC. Numerous internet standards including Transport Layer Security (TLS), S/MIME and Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) utilize RSA and / or ECC for the secure exchange of encryption keys. All these services could be endangered once quantum computers can crack these encryption schemes. The New Hope method is one of the techniques that could replace today’s encryption and harden communication channels against quantum computing attacks, Infineon said.

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