The Evolution of Cryptography
Course Name and Number
The Evolution of Cryptography
The national institute of standards and technology (NIST) creates a link between industries and science for competitiveness by promoting technology standards to improve the quality of life and enhance economic security. The body is overly concerned with cybersecurity as the world today runs with technology that faces many potential risks. Therefore, data and network security are crucial due to the ever-increasing number of interconnected mobile devices and systems.
All online transactions, conversations, and electronic locks, among others, are made possible through algorithms, encryption methods, and cryptographic standards. Cryptography/cryptology involves the study of approaches that secure the communication process avoiding detection from unwanted parties. Confidentiality, access control, non-repudiation, availability, data integrity, and authentication are vital to cryptography (Buchanan, Li, & Asif, 2018). Technology is evolving with each passing day, and so does the field of cryptography although, the encryption standards are not keeping up with the technological changes. NIST plays its role by fostering programs that work on solutions such as lightweight and post-quantum cryptography.
A significant number of cryptographic techniques have constraints as they require power, time, and many complimentary devices that users do not have in possession. Thus, the cryptology can be too small for some devices, too energy-consuming, or too big. Devices such as the internet of things (IoT), cyber-physical systems, and sensor networks depend on cryptology for confidentiality and integrity. The machines are small and uncomplicated, making them incapable of processing cryptographic algorithms to maintain their security (O’Reilly et al., 2019). The solution is to solicit lightweight algorithms that are applicable and can perform with the devices currently used.
NIST improves the lightweight solicitation process by acquiring public feedback on the candidate algorithms. The solution uses less memory, power supply, and computing resources, providing security solutions to devices with limited resources. There is the expectation that lightweight cryptography will become faster and simpler when compared to conventional cryptography. However, it will have the disadvantage of reduced security, but it is applicable in both hardware and software systems (Buchanan, Li, & Asif, 2018). The lightweight algorithms trade-off costs, speed, performance, and security.
Quantum computing is a phenomenon that promises to change the world as it can solve the most complex issues. However, it serves as a double-edged sword for cryptography as it poses the risk of breaking the cryptosystems currently in use at a highly reduced time frame. O’Reilly et al. (2019) state that this would reduce all digital communication systems’ integrity and confidentiality. Scientists are continually doing away with challenges that hindered the building of large-scale quantum computers, and they pose a risk to the globe’s most powerful supercomputers.
Quantum-resistant cryptography aims to develop cryptographic systems or algorithms that maintain security against classical and highly powerful quantum computers. There is no guaranteed time frame for the availability of large-scale quantum computers. Therefore, preparations to do away with the challenges to confidentiality and integrity must start today. Unlike classical computers, which process information in bits of 1s and 0s, quantum computers use qubits whose state is uncertain until the calculation concludes. The advantage of this is that quantum computers can try out various parallel measures in one go. NIST promotes the development of quantum-resistant cryptography, and they analyze the performance of the algorithms in the real world.
The world today relies on technology, which faces many threats. Cryptographic algorithms help to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of information passed forth or stored in devices. However, threats such as the development of large-scale quantum computers that will break down cryptographs, leaving information exposed, create the need for alternative approaches. PQC aims to maintain the security of data against classical and quantum computers. Lightweight cryptography algorithms also provide for security needs with small and uncomplicated devices.
Buchanan, W., Li, S., & Asif, R. (2018). Lightweight cryptography methods. https://doi.org/10.1080/23742917.2017.1384917.
Cartwright, J. (2019). Quantum—a double-edged sword for cryptography. https://phys.org/news/2019-06-quantuma-double-edged-sword-cryptography.html.
O’Reilly, P., Rigopoulos, K., Fieldman, L., & Witte, G. (2019). 2019 NIST/ITL cybersecurity program annual report: NIST special publication 800-211. https://doi.org/10.6028/NIST.SP.800-211.
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