New Software Improves Speed and Accuracy of Cryptography

April 29, 2019

Susan Hohenberger Waters, associate research professor in ISI

Cryptographers often spend time on tasks that are both very complex and very tedious. Precision is key: a single error can compromise an entire system.

Associate Research Professor Susan Hohenberger Waters at JHU’s Information Security Institute leads a research team developing a suite of software tools to improve the speed and accuracy of cryptography. Waters’ research, “Automation for Cryptographic Design, Implementation and Security,” was recently awarded $800,000 by the Office of Naval Research. This is the third grant on this topic awarded to Waters and her team.

“One of the main thrusts of this research for Navy applications is to look at different pieces of the cryptographic design process and verification process that humans currently do by hand – then see if we can instead come up with algorithms and software that can do those tasks for us,” said Waters.

Waters and the team’s approach to automation is to first search for naturally occurring patterns in common cryptographic tasks that might lend themselves to automation. The next step is to devise a means for translating the creative design task into a problem that computers are better at solving.

“Additionally, what we are trying to get computers to do is to create new things, to embed a bit of human creativity into a software algorithm,” said Dr. Waters.

Waters latest research, “Are These Pairing Elements Correct? Automated Verification and Applications,” further explores these new strategies for computer automation.  These results will be presented at the 26th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, a premier conference at the intersection of cryptography and computer security, held in London, UK in November 2019.

JHU Information Security Institute