European Network of Excellence in Cryptology II

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ECRYPT II Yearly Report on Algorithms and Key Lengths (2012)
revision 1.0, 30 September 2012
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ECRYPT II - European Network of Excellence for Cryptology II is a 4.5-year network of excellence funded within the Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) Programme of the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) under contract number ICT-2007-216676. It falls under the action line Secure, dependable and trusted infrastructures. ECRYPT II started on 1 August 2008 and ended on 31 January 2013. Its objective is to continue intensifying the collaboration of European researchers in information security.

Cryptology is the science that studies mathematical techniques in order to provide secrecy, authenticity and related properties for digital information.including the secure implementation of these techniques. It is an interdisciplinary research area with a high strategic impact for European industry and for the society as a whole. It is a fundamental enabler for secure, dependable and trusted infrastructures. The ECRYPT II research roadmap is motivated by the changing environment 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, and by the requirements of new applications and cryptographic implementations. Its main objective 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, 11 leading players propose to integrate their research capabilities within three virtual labs focusing on symmetric key algorithms (SymLab), public key algorithms and protocols (MAYA), and hardware and software implementations (VAMPIRE). They will be joined by more than 20 adjoint members to the network who will closely collaborate with the core partners. ECRYPT II plans to build on an expand the integration activities developed within ECRYPT that 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 II network of excellence are the following:

  • Maintain and strengthen the excellence of European research and industry in the area of cryptology 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
    • Research meetings to discuss and work on challenging problems (brainstorming sessions)
    • Exchange visits of researchers and PhD students (including visits from researchers outside the network)
    • Developing a joint infrastructure
  • Strengthen and integrate research in cryptology 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 II 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:
    • Improve our understanding of existing algorithms and protocols
    • Expand the theoretical foundations of cryptology
    • Develop better cryptographic algorithms, protocols and implementations in the following respects: low cost, high performance, 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.

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

  1. Symmetric techniques virtual lab (SymLab)
  2. Multi-party and asymmetric algorithms virtual lab virtual lab (MAYA)
  3. Secure and efficient implementations virtual lab (VAMPIRE)

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

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Virtual labs

The primary technical objective of the SymLab is to facilitate European research on both the design and analysis of symmetric cryptosystems. The work in the SymLab addresses some pressing issues for academia and industry alike. Thus, two particular areas of research have been identified within the scope of the SymLab and 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 SymLab is the development of secure and efficient hash functions; a task that will require considerable input from industry and academia alike. A second goal of the SymLab 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 MAYA lab is to allow better collaboration among European institutions on the design and analysis of asymmetric cryptographic primitives and protocols. To accomplish this goal, two main areas of study have been identified. First, it is important to design and analyze asymmetric primitives and protocols; this will include advanced protocols for e-voting, auctions, and contract bidding and protocols protecting privacy. Tools will be developed to support security proofs and new adversary models will be studied (e.g. rational adversaries). A second target for the MAYA efforts is to improve our knowledge on the hardness of the computational problems that are used as underlying assumptions to provide security. This work will also include the study of new cryptanalytic techniques and new mathematical primitives that would also be viable in a world with quantum computers.

The VAMPIRE lab has a dual role in ECRYPT II. On the one hand, it will research new techniques that are related to efficient and secure implementation. This includes: development of novel efficient implementation techniques in hardware and software, the development of a solid understanding of existing and new physical attacks and efficient countermeasures, and researching and understanding of cryptanalytical hardware and its impact on cryptographic parameters. On the other hand, VAMPIRE will provide a bridge between the research and the user community. We expect 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 plan 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 II appears to be an ideal mechanism to reach these goals.