Back at Royal Holloway

Since the beginning of this month I am back at the Information Security Group (which is now its own department) at Royal Holloway, University of London. In particular, I have a three year postdoc position on a project looking into multilinear maps. The project is with Kenny Paterson.

It seems the Information Security Group has grown considerably since 2010 (when I left), but maybe only more people attend the research seminar now. Speaking of which, they are open to all and here is this term’s schedule:

  • 16 Jan 2014 (Thu): Corrado Leita (Symantec Research Labs, EU), “Who switched off the lights? Detecting targeted attacks against the power grid“,  room ABLT3
  •  21 Jan 2014 (Tue): Viktor Mayer-Schönberger (University of Oxford, UK), TBD, room MLT
  • 30 Jan 2014 (Thu): Martin Albrecht (Royal Holloway University of London, UK), “Lazy Modulus Switching for the BKW Algorithm on LWE“, room ABLT3
  • 05 Feb 2014 (Wed): Elisabeth Oswald (University of Bristol, UK), TBD, room ABLT2
  • 13 Feb 2014 (Thu): Andreas Schaad (SAP, GE), TBD, room ABLT3
  • 20 Feb 2014 (Thu): TBA, room ABLT3
  • 27 Feb 2014 (Thu): Frederik Mennes (Vasco, UK), “Leveraging Trustworthy Computing Mechanisms to Enhance DIGIPASS Strong Authentication Technology“, room  ABLT3
  • 05 Mar 2014 (Wed): Emiliano De Cristofaro (University College London, UK), TBD, room ABLT3
  • 13 Mar 2014 (Thu): Leyla Bilge, (Symantec Research Labs, EU), TBD, room ABLT3 
  • 20 Mar 2014 (Thu): Andrew S. Tanenbaum (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, NL), TBD, room ABLT3
  • 27 Mar 2014 (Thu): Juan Caballero (IMDEA Software, ES), TBD, room ABLT3

Best check the official seminar website for updates to talk titles etc.

PS: In related old news for those who missed it: a few UK researchers got together and expressed their criticism of NSA’s and GCHQ’s undermining of cryptography. It’s a bit tame and to get a newline one needs a professor title apparently, but it’s a start.

NSA’s Crypto Advantage

Slashdot: “Network World summarizes an RSA Conference panel discussion in which former NSA technical director Brian Snow said that cryptographers for the NSA have been losing ground to their counterparts in universities and commercial security vendors for 20 years, but still maintain the upper hand in the sophistication of their crypto schemes and in their ability to decrypt. ‘I do believe NSA is still ahead, but not by much — a handful of years,’ says Snow. ‘I think we’ve got the edge still.’ Snow added that that in the 1980s there was a huge gap between what the NSA could do and what commercial encryption technology was capable of. ‘Now we are very close together and moving very slowly forward in a mature field.’ The NSA has one key advantage (besides their deep staff of Ph.D. mathematicians and other cryptographic experts who work on securing traffic and breaking codes): ‘We cheat. We get to read what [academics] publish. We do not publish what we research,’ he said. Snow’s claim of NSA superiority seemed to rankle some members on the panel. Adi Shamir, the “S” in the RSA encryption algorithm. said that when the titles of papers in NSA technical journals were declassified up to 1983, none of them included public key encryption; ‘That demonstrates that NSA was behind,’ said Shamir. Snow replied that when technologies are developed separately in parallel, the developers don’t necessarily use the same terms for them.”

The titles Shamir is talking about are here.