The Germans have developed an accelerator for quantum encryption algorithms

It is expected that modern encryption algorithms will not be able to resist attacks using quantum computers. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but over time, AES-128 and AES-256 keys will be easily cracked by quantum systems. We need to prepare for this now, and in Germany started development and production of accelerators of quantum encryption algorithms, stable in the post-quantum era.

Image source: Technical University of Munich

Image source: Technical University of Munich

A group of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed a quantum cryptography chip that promises to withstand an attack using quantum computers. The chip is built on the RISC-V architecture and instruction set with the inclusion of ASIC and FPGA structures. Additionally, 29 special instructions are provided to reduce the specific computational load on the crystal.

The Germans based the accelerator of quantum encryption algorithms on the joint work of two promising algorithms for post-quantum cryptography: Kyber and SIKE… Both algorithms are two different mechanisms for encapsulating encryption keys with resistance to attacks using quantum computers.

According to the developers, the new chip shows a 10-fold acceleration in data processing using the Kyber algorithm compared to current software encryption methods. At the same time, energy consumption is 8 times lower. Encryption using algorithms SIKE promises a stronger level of protection against “quantum” attacks, and this algorithm serves the new chip with a 21x speedup. In other words, the groundwork has been made for the distant future.

But if you do not look so far, then the new microcircuit may be useful today. It also contains mechanisms for detecting hardware backdoors. The developers claim that the accelerator is able to analyze the operation of the equipment to detect unauthorized data processing. For example, if some activity begins in the system that is not related to the declared purpose of the equipment, or processes occur that go beyond the tasks.

Hardware backdoors can be installed either routinely (for remote monitoring of equipment status), or secretly at the design or production stage, which from time to time, for example, is blamed on SuperMicro. According to the German developers, their new chip is able to independently detect the presence of hardware “bugs”. An interesting proposal, although practice shows that there are no universal solutions.

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Dylan Harris

Dylan Harris is fascinated by tests and reviews of computer hardware.

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