It’s impossible to talk about the IT world becoming software-defined with the advent of software-defined storage, networking and data centers, and cloud reliant these days, without in the same breathe addressing the issue of security. It’s an issue we just can’t get away from and everyone seems to have the same question: How do we keep our data safe and away from prying eyes?
One obvious answer lies with cryptography and finding a way to secure data in the face of potential threats; wherever that data may reside. One way, according to Brian LaMacchia, Director of Security & Cryptography with Microsoft Research, may be through the use of quantum-resistant algorithms. And the reason we might need these algorithms to begin with, according to LaMacchia, is that quantum computers are heading our way.
Quantum computers are capable of processing large amounts of data in just hours; the same amount of data that would take today’s computers millions of years to process. The problem is that the traditional form of encryption, public-key cryptosystems, don’t work for quantum computers and that means they have to be replaced. LaMacchia is predicting that what will replace them is quantum-resistant algorithms, and the first step toward that is something called a quantum-resistant TLS (Transport Layer Security), which would be used for every https:// secure web connection.
Last year, Microsoft researchers began testing a quantum-proof version of the TLS encryption protocol designed to keep your online data secure. This year; however, LaMacchia is eyeing another big breakthrough—an actual demonstration of an end-to-end encrypted TLS connection using quantum-resistant public-key algorithms for both key exchange (for confidentiality) and digital signatures (for authentication).
It’s an exciting possibility; especially for the software-defined data center or hybrid cloud where vast amounts of data must be properly managed and stored. Each new advance signals yet another layer of protection around that data, and that has interesting implications for IT professionals working in virtually any industry where online data is encrypted.
For more information on LaMacchia’s 2016 prediction, as well as those from some of his other colleagues, check out From AI and data science to cryptography: Microsoft researchers offer 16 predictions for ’16.
This blog is sponsored by Microsoft.
Cheryl J. Ajluni is a freelance writer and editor based in California. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Wireless Systems Design and served as the EDA/Advanced Technology editor for Electronic Design for over 10 years. She is also a published book author and patented engineer. Her work regularly appears in print and online publications. Contact her at [email protected] with your comments or story ideas.