Cryptography for Secure Digital Interaction

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17 November 2013

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As increasing amounts of sensitive data are exchanged and processed every day on the Internet, the need for security is paramount. This week the EU announced a new COST (Cooperation in Science and Technology) action in the field of cryptography in which Bristol will play a leading role.

Cryptography is the fundamental tool for securing digital interactions, and allows much more than secure communication: recent breakthroughs in cryptography enable the protection - at least from a theoretical point of view - of any interactive data processing task. This includes electronic voting, outsourcing of storage and computation, e-payments, electronic auctions, etc.

However, as cryptography advances and becomes more complex, single research groups become specialized and lose contact with “the big picture”. Fragmentation in this field can be dangerous, as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. To ensure that the ideas produced in Europe’s many excellent research groups will have a practical impact, coordination among national efforts and different skills is needed.

The aim of this COST Action is to stimulate interaction between the different national efforts in order to develop new cryptographic solutions and to evaluate the security of deployed algorithms with applications to the secure digital interactions between citizens, companies and governments. The Action will foster a network of European research centers thus promoting movement of ideas and people between partners.

Prof. Nigel Smart of Bristol University said "These cross national programmes are vitally important these days, as science and technology are being developed at an international level. In cryptography PhD students across Europe are used to working with each other via the previous ECRYPT and ECRYPT-II Networks of Excellence, creating a continental cohort effect. Thus this new COST Action will enable this effect to be felt for the next generation of students".