Quantum-safe security is becoming increasingly important as quantum computers begin a steady – albeit slow – march toward practicality. As an early leader in quantum-safe security, ISARA Corp. announced -- with industry support from Venafi, Crypto4A, and other companies -- that it is dedicating the intellectual property behind its ISARA Catalyst Agile Digital Certificate Methodology, including four patents, to the public.
One of the initial challenges for quantum computing is bridging the gap with traditional computing. And this applies especially to cryptography.
Quantum cryptography, which uses the principles of quantum mechanics to encrypt data, recently received worldwide attention when three physicists won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics. Their research into quantum physics points to the future application of quantum mechanics to encryption.
Surge in quantum research
In recent years, there has been a surge in research into quantum computers, which exploit quantum mechanical phenomena to solve mathematical problems that are difficult or intractable for conventional computers.
NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has started the process to solicit, evaluate, and standardize quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms.
If and when large-scale quantum computers are realized, it is expected that they will be able to break many of the public-key cryptosystems currently in use.
“The timeline for post-quantum computing development is unclear, but once a quantum computer is able to break RSA and elliptic curve cryptography, the transition will be abrupt, and organizations need to start preparing now,” Greg Wetmore, VP Product Development at Entrust, said in the ISARA announcement.
Hybrid certificate patents
“The goal of post-quantum cryptography (PQC)…is to develop cryptographic systems that are secure against both quantum and classical computers, and can interoperate with existing communications protocols and networks,” according to NIST.
In order to get there, cryptographic products, protocols, and services that “everyday businesses rely on need to be upgraded in order to become quantum safe,” according to ISARA.
Hybrid certificates, an important component of ISARA’s Catalyst methodology, enable organizations to migrate to quantum-safe security today to protect connected devices — as well as complex public key infrastructures (PKIs) — with no impact to end users, according to ISARA.
These certificates support two or more cryptographic algorithms within a single certificate and can support both classic and quantum-safe public keys and signatures, ISARA said.
A hybrid certificate is a traditional X.509 digital certificate that has additional quantum-safe components encoded within it.
“When an organization starts to migrate its systems and applications to quantum-safe cryptography, they won’t need to support two separate PKIs — one for traditional certificates and one for quantum-safe certificates — since they will already have two-in-one hybrid certificates in place. This provides backward compatibility during the transition period to quantum,” according to ISARA.
“By making these four critical digital certificate patents available to the public, we are looking to grow the industry and increase crypto-agile implementation for more secure systems now and in the future.”
--Atsushi Yamada, CEO at ISARA.
“Venafi created the Machine Identity Management market and we’ve been consistently investing in innovation and open-source technology for years,” said Kevin Bocek, VP of Strategy and Threat Intelligence for Venafi.
“Venafi sponsored both Crypto4A and ISARA to further the innovations that were important to enabling this open-source technology and we’re excited to see it become open to all. Our goal is to make it easy to be ready for the post-quantum world where today’s machine identities can’t be trusted,” according to Bocek.