CACE aims to provide cryptographic software development tools

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14 April 2008

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January 2008 saw the official kick-off of a 4.8 million euro, EU FP7 funded research project called Computer Aided Cryptography Engineering (CACE), the project supports a total of 12 partners including 7 academic partners, 4 industrial partners and the project coordinator, Technikon.

Normally, development of software is facilitated by a set of tools (e.g. compilers and debuggers), which automate tasks normally performed by experienced, highly skilled developers. Development of cryptographic software in this way is a huge challenge: security and trust is mission critical and modern applications processing sensitive data typically require the deployment of sophisticated cryptographic techniques. CACE aims to develop a set of domain-specific tools that assist the development of cryptographic software. The proposed tools will allow non-experts to develop high-level cryptographic applications and business models by means of cryptography-aware high-level programming languages and compilers. Using the CACE tools will allow automatic analysis and transformation of cryptographic software to detect security critical implementation failures (e.g. software and hardware based side-channel attacks) when realising low level cryptographic primitives and protocols. Ultimately, the end result will be better quality, more robust software at much lower cost; this provides both a clear economic benefit to the European industry in the short term, and positions it better in dealing with any future roadblocks to ICT development in the longer term.

In common with the research interests of staff in Bristol, the project aims span theoretical cryptography (e.g. zero-knowledge proof and multi-party computation), practical cryptography (e.g. efficient and secure implementation of primitives) and the compiler technology to unite the two. Active in all working packages and leader of WP1, which relates to the CAO language and compiler, Bristol is set to play a major part in the project which locally supports 3 staff members, 1 PDRA and 1 PhD student.