In the digital age, security of sensitive information is of utmost importance. Many data are encrypted before they enter the data highway. Mostly, these methods use a password for decryption, and in most cases, exactly this password is the entrance gate for hackers. Scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) use a new and highly secure approach by combining computer science with chemistry and a conventional encryption method with a chemical password.
Their development is now reported in an open access publication in Nature Communications. (DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03784-x ).
Today, very good and highly effective encryption programs exist, which are difficult to overcome, provided that the computer capacity is limited. The password, however, always remains the weak point. If it is badly chosen and does not meet the necessary security requirements, it is the Achilles heel of entire encryption. Exactly here is the starting point of work of the scientists of KIT: They conceal the information of the password in a small organic molecule. And while the encrypted digital information can travel publicly, the key to read the information is transported invisibly and without the knowledge of the environment in a form of a small volume of a chemical compound, e.g. as a droplet on paper.
Computer science meets chemistry: Encryption and decryption in detail. (Graphics: Andreas Boukis, KIT)
“Of course, this method is only suited for applications requiring high security levels and, hence, justifying a high expenditure, examples being the transmission of intelligence or communication of embassies,” says Professor Michael Meier of KIT’s Institute of Organic Chemistry. Other applications might be identification or anti counterfeit tags. We can work with smallest amounts and also find them in materials, in which other chemical compounds, such as DNA molecules, cannot be used,” first author Andreas Boukis adds. The scientists succeeded in reliably isolating chemical keys from various carrier materials, such as paper, perfume, instant coffee, green tea, sugar, and even pork blood.
Application of the password in the form of a molecule, sending the message, extracting the molecule, and decryption: The simplified representation above illustrates a highly complex and highly secure method. (Photos: Amadeus Bramsiepe, KIT; graphics: Leon Kühner, KIT)
The information of the chemical key is hidden in the sequence of building blocks and the attached sidechains. Each of these chemical components is assigned a letter and a number. Depending on which components are synthesized in which sequence and with which sidechains, an individual alphanumerical code results for the password molecule. It is read out with a specially developed computer program and converted into a binary code. For synthesis, the scientists used a conventional so-called multi-component reaction. It allows to synthesize a previously defined molecule in one step with a small expenditure. As basic components, the researchers selected suitable commercially available compounds. With this database of 130 different basic compounds, 500,000 chemical keys can be synthesized, containing a basic information of 18 bits each. By combining various chemical keys that can also be transmitted at various times and places, information storage capacity and, hence, security can be further increased. As the compounds are highly robust, they are suited for a variety of carrier materials. Thanks to another property, they are also easy to find: At a certain position, they have a special sidechain that facilitates recovery, so-called perfluoroalkyls. Their properties are similar to those of teflon, i.e. they do not like to interact with aqueous (polar) or fatty (unpolar) media, but only with other perfluorinated compounds. For this rea [Textfeld: Computer science meets chemistry: Encryption and decryption in detail. (Graphics: Andreas Boukis, KIT)] son, these molecules can be separated selectively from a mixture. The isolated compounds are then analyzed using a conventional highly sensitive analysis method, mass spectrometry. The mass of entire molecules, but also of defined fragments is determined. If the library of the 130 possible initial components is known, conclusions can be drawn with respect to the molecule and the password for decryption can be read out.
“The idea to send information via secret channels is not new. But our process is characterized by the fact that we provide a highly robust secret channel that needs minimum amounts of the key molecule only,” Professor Dennis Hofheinz of the Institute of Theoretical Informatics summarizes the advantages of chemical passwords.
The Latest on: Encryption
[google_news title=”” keyword=”encryption” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
via Google News
The Latest on: Encryption
- Apple Beefs Up iMessage With Quantum-Resistant Encryptionon February 23, 2024 at 1:31 pm
The revamped iMessage app uses Apple's new PQ3 post-quantum cryptographic protocol, which its engineers say will make it the most secure messaging app — but Signal's president begs to differ.
- NYPD extends radio encryption to Staten Island, blocking public and media accesson February 23, 2024 at 12:00 pm
The NYPD began encrypting police radio transmissions in Staten Island on Thursday, thereby blocking the public and media from listening to radio transmissions. The move to block the public from ...
- The Current Encryption Landscape: The Need For 3072-Bit Keyson February 23, 2024 at 7:00 am
I have been in the financial industry my whole career, protecting NPI and PII data. However, as we enter the era of quantum computing, strong encryption standards become even more crucial, especially ...
- Why end-to-end encryption is the next battlefield for tech justiceon February 22, 2024 at 8:30 am
But while senators raised a variety of concerns, end-to-end encryption received almost no airtime, with only one senator and one social media company raising the issue. Despite the lack of attention, ...
- Apple readies iMessage for when quantum computers could break encryptionon February 21, 2024 at 9:23 am
Apple is upgrading iMessage's security to post-quantum cryptography in an effort to avoid future "harvest now, decrypt later" attacks.
- Apple Rolls Out Quantum-Proof Encryption For iMessage Amid Possible Hacking Threatson February 21, 2024 at 8:05 am
ToplineApple will roll out an iMessage update guarding against future hacking threats through quantum computing, the company announced Wednesday, following warnings by government agencies and tech ...
- Apple Adds Post-Quantum Encryption to iMessageon February 21, 2024 at 6:00 am
Apple unveils PQ3, a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage designed to protect communications against quantum attacks ...
- Apple starts rolling out quantum-proof encryption to iMessageon February 21, 2024 at 6:00 am
Apple will start rolling out a new encryption standard for iMessage that will help protect against efforts to crack its code by quantum computers, the company announced Wednesday.
- Apple’s iMessage Is Getting Post-Quantum Encryptionon February 21, 2024 at 6:00 am
Useful quantum computers aren’t a reality—yet. But in one of the biggest deployments of post-quantum encryption so far, Apple is bringing the technology to iMessage.
via Bing News