QSec: Quantum Security


A project of  SQIG at  IT, funded by FCT and EU FEDER PTDC/EIA/67661/2006 (October 1, 2007 - September 30, 2010).

Quantum cryptography and security have been attracting much attention due to their potential applications in critical aspects of information technology, namely e-business, now essential to the world economy. This fact can be demonstrated by the huge private investment on quantum systems, including companies like IBM, Intel, Alcatel (via Bell Labs), as well as intense public investment by technologically oriented countries, such as, USA, Germany, Switzerland, UK and Canada. The message is clear; no advanced country may ignore quantum technology.

Two seminal works have driven most of the research on this area: the quantum polynomial time factorization algorithm proposed by Shor; and the quantum public key agreement protocol BB84, proposed by Bennett and Brassard. While Shor´s algorithm raises the threat of making widely used cryptographic systems (via classic communication channels) completely obsolete by a breakthrough in quantum hardware, the BB84 protocol shows that quantum communication channels allow public perfect security in the context of an authenticated channel.

Due to Shor’s factoring algorithm, research on (asymmetric) cryptography shifted significantly. Presently, one of the most important problems in the area is to find one-way functions robust to quantum attacks. This effort is clearly endeavored by the private sector since it fears that confidence in e-business may decrease with the eminent threat of a quantum hardware breakthrough. Indeed, Shor’s algorithm is able to attack all cryptosystems based on factorization and discrete logarithm, even in the elliptic curve setting, which accounts to essentially everything that is used in practice and is based on asymmetric keys.

On the other hand, BB84 is already commercially available through peer-to-peer optical devices. It is worth pointing out that quantum channels sending an arbitrarily amount of quantum information can already be produced using cheap technology. Moreover, much research is being done to develop quantum networks and routers using traditional optical fibers and laser satellite communications. It is expected that quantum networks will be available much sooner than quantum computers and thus, it is fundamental to understand which security and distributed protocols can benefit from quantum technology.

The main goal of the project is to address and tackle some of the most challenging open problems in the area of quantum security. Significant original results are expected in several fronts, such as: design and analysis of quantum protocols, model checking of quantum systems, quantum cryptoanalysis of classical protocols, quantum solutions to classical impossibilities. Several applications will be investigated with the purpose of understating how they can be speed up using quantum information. The focus will be on cryptographic tasks, such as zero knowledge proof systems, e-voting, authentication and contract signing. A model-checking tool for quantum systems will be produced within the project, as well as a simulator for testing quantum attacks on symmetric cryptosystems.

The project is organized into two tasks, following the usual branching of cryptology: (T1) Quantum cryptography and security; (T2) Quantum cryptoanalysis and computation. Task T1 is mainly devoted to design and verify quantum security protocols, while task T2 is aimed at finding quantum attacks to classical cryptosystems.

QSec is a joint project of SQIG at IT and CFIF.



Publications at SQIG:

(prepared within the scope of the project)

For further information contact Paulo Mateus (project coordinator).


Publications by members of the project that are not in SQIG 
(prepared within the scope of the project)