SPS Key Priorities consist of five categories including: 

  1. a i) Methods for the protection of critical infrastructure, supplies and personnel
  2. c ii) Support in developing cyber defence capabilities, including new technologies and support to the construction of information technology infrastructure.

Our proposal clearly answers the scope of this call. Moreover, the suggested research provides solutions of interest to other subcategories of 1.

In addition to being compatible with the key priorities, the proposed project interlaces with NATO’s Defence Against Terrorism (DAT) program, since cryptography is essential for the protection of critical information infrastructures against cyber attacks. Design decisions for security mechanisms in communication infrastructures made today have an effect on the security in the long-term, and accordingly robust security mechanisms are needed that can meet such long-term requirements. The DAT program objective is to deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorist attacks or threats of attacks. Information warfare, cyber defence, protection of critical infrastructure, and protection from cyber terrorism all require information protection, and cryptography is a vital means for protecting communication and information systems.

Israel, a Mediterranean Dialogue country, has a strong and urgent need to maintain the security of its cyber infrastructure and of its communication with its partners. Israel has long had a strong research presence in the area of algorithmic and mathematical cryptography, with many prominent researchers and breakthrough emanating from Israeli academia. However, academic study of cryptographic hardware and side-channel attacks has historically been led by other NATO countries. This project will bring together expertise to facilitate two goals. First, advancing the state of the art in designing, building and analyzing long-term secure cyber systems. Second, training researchers to understand the whole pertinent landscape, and in particular seeing consideration of cryptographic hardware and side-channel attack mitigation incorporated into the works of Israeli researchers and practitioners.

The NATO Policy on Cyber Defence (June 2011 revision) requires, among others, to defend its command, control and cyber systems, and to provide capabilities to better carry out the full range of NATO’s missions. Cryptography is supposed to provide the fundamental mechanisms to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of information. Alas, from the point of view of long-term security, the current suite of deployed cryptographic schemes is remarkably fragile: the central hardness assumptions underlying standardized digital signature and asymmetric encryption schemes can be phrased as abelian hidden subgroup problems, and efficient quantum algorithms for solving these are available. As a result, once scalable quantum computer implementations become available, currently deployed schemes will become effectively insecure, requiring immediate replacement and compromising legacy data and systems.