Future of Cryptography
Cryptography has been around since the times of the Roman Empire and has been protecting secret information through the ages. From simple mono alphabetic substitution cipher to some of the most advanced cipher like the Advanced Encryption Algorithm (AES), cryptography has been the primary means of preserving confidentiality, integrity, non-repudiation and authenticity of data.
Most of the algorithms of the old ancient times have been broken and the hashing and encryption algorithms of modern times are proving to be a little more insecure as each day passes by.
According to various reports hashing algorithms MD5 and SHA-1 have either been cracked or have started showing weakness and it has been proved by various researchers that the these algorithms might not be capable of providing the security that is desired of them.
Through the use of computers with advanced processing capabilities, Data Encryption Standard (DES) has also been reported as cracked and with AES showing signs of being fragile for day to day use researchers are gleaning different types of techniques to come up with a strong and secure algorithm that would last for decades if not centuries.
Public key infrastructure (PKI), through the use of asymmetric and symmetric encryption algorithms and digital certificate, is proving to be one of the most successful and sought after options for securing data, transactions, information transfer and everything digital in current times.
Beyond these algorithms, researchers believe that Quantum cryptography is the new way forward as traditional algorithms might just give away your secrets as the computing power is increasing by leaps and bounds and with advent of cloud computing and availability of large pool of server grade hardware for rent, cracking traditional cryptography algorithms is going to be comparatively easy.
Mathematics based cryptography algorithms deal with 1s and 0s at the core and to brute force an algorithm, combinations equal to 2 to the power of the key length need to be theoretically tried. But, in reality according to Grover’s algorithm only half of the key space i.e. 2 to the power of half the key length needs to be used to successfully perform a brute force.
This may turn out to be far easier as processing power of computers double every two years based on Moore’s law.
Quantum cryptography can provide a solution to the current issues of undetected eaves dropping, man-in-the-middle attacks of even encrypted traffic, etc. based on Heisenberg uncertainty principle and Stephen Wiesner’s idea of utilising the uncertainty of polarised light photons.
With quantum cryptography quantum bits (qbits) with either a value of 1 or a 0 or in a supposition are used which may practically be envisioned in terms of polarization of photos. The very nature of the photos changing the polarization if eavesdropping is performed will deter and prevent any covert or malicious intentions.
Practicality of quantum cryptography is a looming question but, with companies already providing solutions to cater to varying needs of their business customers affordable, convenient and easy to use quantum cryptographic implementations are not far away.