Six of 69 announced proposals for future cryptography come from TU/e

On Thursday, the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – an agency that creates cryptographic standards that are used worldwide – released a list of 69 proposals for cryptography to survive the advent of quantum computers. Six of these proposals are submitted by researchers of TU/e’s Coding Theory and Cryptology research group.

A considerable amount of research has been conducted on quantum computers in recent years. If this research leads to building large-scale quantum computers, it will cause serious security risks since quantum computers will be that powerful they will be able to break many of the cryptosystems currently in use. That is why NIST has initiated a process to solicit, evaluate, and standardize one or more quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms.
 
Securely signing documents
Cryptographer Andreas Hülsing (Eindhoven University of Technology) is the leader of one proposal, SPHINCS+ ("SPHINCS Plus"), for securely signing documents. "Every signature system uses a hash function and typically a conjectured-to-be-hard mathematical problem. SPHINCS+ does not need anything other than a hash function," Hülsing says. "SPHINCS+ is unique in the level of security assurance it brings."
 
Three to five years
“In total our university submitted six of the proposals,” says Tanja Lange, Professor of Cryptology at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. The leaders of these proposals will attend the first Post Quantum Cryptology (PQC) Standardization Conference early 2018 to present their work. However, scientists are already working on the next phase of the ‘competition’, as NIST asked its community to analyze the proposals. Lange: “Eindhoven cryptographers are now busy analyzing the other submissions and have already found serious security flaws in two proposals.” It will take the NIST community 3 to 5 years to further analyze the proposals, and settle on new standards.