(SpectrumIEEE) Scientists in Germany have developed a microchip they say could help make an era of “post-quantum cryptography” a reality.
To stay ahead of quantum computers, researchers around the world are designing post-quantum cryptography algorithms based on new mathematical problems that both quantum and classical computers find difficult to solve. Many of these algorithms rely on so-called lattice-based cryptography, which center around problems based on lattices of multiple points or vectors, explains electrical engineer Georg Sigl at the Technical University of Munich.
However, lattice-based cryptography algorithms can require a lot of processing power when it comes to operations such as generating randomness and multiplying polynomials. Now Sigl and his colleagues have developed a microchip with tailored accelerators that make it highly efficient at carrying out these steps.
Now Sigl and his colleagues have developed a microchip with tailored accelerators that make it highly efficient at carrying out these steps.
The new chip is based on the open source RISC-V standard. Its hardware components and control software are designed to complement each other to efficiently generate randomness and to reduce the complexity of polynomial multiplication, Sigl explains. Industrial partners on this work include German companies such as Siemens, Infineon Technologies, and Giesecke+Devrient.
Moreover, the researchers say their microchip is flexible enough to also support SIKE, a different post-quantum algorithm that is not lattice-based and requires much more computing power than Kyber, but is seen as a promising alternative if lattice-based approaches no longer prove secure.
Another potential threat to computer security comes from hardware trojans— malicious circuits deliberately implanted like Trojan horses—which could potentially evade evan post-quantum cryptography. Researchers currently know very little about how real attacks use hardware trojans, Sigl says. So to learn more about them, the researchers included four different hardware trojans on their chip.