Network of Excellence in Cryptology

IST Logo

eSTREAM - the ECRYPT Stream Cipher Project

eBATS -ECRYPT Benchmarking of Asymmetric Systems

BOWS-2 - Break Our Watermarking System contest 2nd Ed.

ECRYPT Yearly Report on Algorithms and Key Lengths (2007-2008)
revision 1.1, 31 July 2008
All ECRYPT public documents (updated)

ECRYPT Workshops & Schools (updated)

ECRYPT - European Network of Excellence for Cryptology is a 4-year network of excellence funded within the Information Societies Technology (IST) Programme of the European Commission's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) under contract number IST-2002-507932. It falls under the action line Towards a global dependability and security framework. ECRYPT was launched on February 1st, 2004. Its objective is to intensify the collaboration of European researchers in information security, and more in particular in cryptology and digital watermarking.

Cryptology is the science that studies mathematical techniques in order to provide secrecy, authenticity and related properties for digital information. Watermarking allows embedding hidden information into the digital media, such that the watermark is imperceptible and difficult to remove. Cryptology and watermarking are interdisciplinary research areas with a high strategic impact for European industry and for the society as a whole. They are a fundamental enabler for security, privacy and dependability in the Information Society for digital asset management. The ECRYPT research roadmap is motivated by the changing environment (evolving towards ambient intelligence) and threat models in which cryptology is deployed, by the gradual erosion of the computational difficulty of the mathematical problems on which cryptology is based, by the need of strong foundations in the watermarking area and by the requirements of new applications and cryptographic implementations. The main objective of ECRYPT is to ensure a durable integration of European research in both academia and industry and to maintain and strengthen the European excellence in these areas. In order to reach this goal, 32 leading players integrate their research capabilities within five virtual labs focused on the following core research areas: symmetric key algorithms (STVL), public key algorithms (AZTEC), protocols (PROVILAB), secure and efficient implementations (VAMPIRE), and watermarking (WAVILA). Essential integration activities include joint workshops, exchange of researchers and students, development of common tools and benchmarks and a website and forum which will be a focal point for the network and the wider cryptographic community. Spreading activities will include a training program, a substantial contribution towards standardization, bodies and an active publication policy. The project team has the critical mass and breadth to address the key questions in these areas.

The general objectives of the ECRYPT network of excellence are the following:

  • Maintain and strengthen the excellence of European research and industry in the areas of cryptology and watermarking and obtain a durable integration which lasts beyond the funding of the NoE provided by the European Commission. This is achieved by
    • E-integration: web portal, forum, email lists
    • Workshops for collecting requirements from all relevant players, building consensus on an integrated research roadmap, scientific presentations and interactions (brainstorming sessions)
    • Exchange visits of researchers and PhD students
    • Developing a joint infrastructure
  • Strengthen and integrate research in cryptology and watermarking in Europe and decrease fragmentation by creating a research infrastructure and by organising research into virtual laboratories thereby establishing a joint research agenda and executing joint research in these areas. The Virtual Labs foster joint research between the ECRYPT members; each Virtual Lab has several working groups; this substructure will be refocused or renewed on a regular basis. The network will be organised to ensure that Virtual Labs cooperate closely towards achieving common goals.
  • Improve the state of the art in practice and theory of cryptology and watermarking:
    • Improve our understanding of existing algorithms and protocols
    • Expand the theoretical foundations of cryptology and watermarking
    • Develop better cryptographic algorithms, protocols and implementations in the following respects: high performance, low cost, high security
  • Develop a joint infrastructure which includes: tools for the evaluation of cryptographic algorithms, a benchmarking environment for cryptographic hardware and software, infrastructure for side channel analysis measurements and tools, tools for benchmarking watermarking schemes.

The activities of the ECRYPT Network of Excellence are organized into five virtual laboratories established as follows:

  1. Symmetric techniques virtual lab (STVL)
  2. Asymmetric techniques virtual lab (AZTEC)
  3. Protocols virtual lab (PROVILAB)
  4. Secure and efficient implementations virtual lab (VAMPIRE), and
  5. Watermarking and perceptual hashing virtual lab (WAVILA).

Each virtual lab within the ECRYPT Network of Excellence aims to promote and facilitate cryptographic research on a pan-European level.

The primary technical objective of the STVL is to facilitate European research on both the design and analysis of symmetric cryptosystems. In this way it is hoped that the work in the STVL will address some pressing issues for academia and industry alike. Thus, three particular areas of research have been identified within the scope of the STVL and it is intended that an exchange of ideas from both academia and industry will help the cryptographic community make substantial progress in these areas. The first target for the efforts of the STVL is the development of secure and efficient stream ciphers; a task that will require considerable input from industry and academia alike. A second target for the STVL is a coordinated cryptanalytic assessment of the Advanced Encryption Standard. In fact, this task lies within a broader research area of symmetric cipher cryptanalysis, and it is anticipated that collaboration with the AZTEC virtual lab will complement the efforts within the STVL. A third goal of the STVL will be to address the development of lightweight cryptographic primitives as a fundamental foundation to ambient technology. Such a technical objective is ambitious; but with the added collaboration of the other Virtual Labs, the opportunities for progress are significant.

The main technical objective of the AZTEC lab is to allow better collaboration among European institutions on the design and analysis of asymmetric cryptographic techniques. To accomplish this goal, four main areas of study have been identified. First, it is important to study, compare and propose mechanisms for provable security, to improve and better understand the security of asymmetric schemes. A second target for the AZTEC efforts is to develop alternatives to the RSA scheme, with particular attention to lightweight solutions, a task that will require considerable efforts from industry and academia. In the Internet era, many new applications are emerging for which asymmetric primitives with some specific properties are useful; for this reason it is fundamental to include the study of such primitives as the third target area of the AZTEC lab. Finally, since there cannot be unconditionally secure asymmetric cryptography, the fourth goal of AZTEC is to improve our knowledge on the hardness of the computational problems that are used as underlying assumptions to provide security.

PROVILAB is concerned with cryptographic protocols, where two or more agents interact in order to reach some common goal; this can be to establish a secure network connection, to realize a payment transaction securely, or to carry out a secure auction over a network. A large body of theoretical research on protocols already exists, but our basic knowledge is still far from complete. Furthermore, analyzing the security of concrete protocols is notoriously difficult, and several solutions proposed and sometimes even used in practice have later turned out to be insecure. The first objective of PROVILAB is therefore to construct practically useful protocols for a wide range of applications with well understood and provable security. The second is to expand our basic knowledge, for instance in the area of unconditional security, i.e. protocols that remain secure, no matter the resources invested in breaking them.

The VAMPIRE lab has a dual role in ECRYPT. On one hand, it will research new techniques that are related to efficient and secure implementation. On the other hand, VAMPIRE will provide a bridge between the research and the user community. In concrete terms, the technical goals of the VAMPIRE lab for the duration of ECRYPT can be summarized as: development of novel efficient implementation techniques in hardware and software; development of a solid understanding of existing and new side channel attacks and efficient counter measures; researching and understanding of cryptanalytical hardware and its impact on cryptographic parameters. There are also non-technical objectives: We hope that the important field of cryptographic implementation grows internationally through VAMPIRE and that the interplay of secure algorithms and secure implementations becomes more prominent. We hope to foster cooperation between strong engineering groups and pure crypto groups. Also, it is a major goal to bridge the existing gap between the research community and engineers in industry who need to apply implementation techniques. Another important objective is to assist the researchers in the other (more theoretical) Virtual Labs in understanding the requirements and meeting the needs of applied cryptography. The interdisciplinary structure of ECRYPT appears to be an ideal mechanism to reach these goals.

The watermarking and perceptual hashing virtual lab WAVILA intends to broaden the scope of ECRYPT beyond the classical cryptographic techniques into the domain embedded signalling and fuzzy signatures. These two techniques have recently been proposed as important ingredients in digital rights management (DRM) systems, but they have never fully been analyzed with respect to security and usage (protocols), comparable to the standard of cryptography. It is the goal of WAVILA to build tools and techniques for assessing the security aspects of watermarking and perceptual hashing, to design advanced algorithms with a well-defined security level, to design protocols, both stand-alone as well as integrated in cryptographic protocols, and to develop methods and techniques for efficient and secure implementations. The overall and broader goal is to bring watermarking and perceptual hashing to such a level that they can be successfully be integrated into future DRM systems.