The question “if” and “when” a quantum computer will exist that is powerful enough to break current asymmetric cryptographic schemes is not relevant. Quantum-safe cryptography will become the standard in the long-term. An early migration of the underlaying security foundation is therefore desirable, as the basis of the entire security during the lifetime of the system is based on it.
By designing a portfolio of high-security quantum-safe cryptographic services we enable systems to become a secure root of trust.
For embedded systems with high cryptographic performance requirements, such as IBM's Hardware Security Modules (HSM), we are designing accelerators that meet today's level of performance demands.
Quantum-safe Root of Trust for IBM Z Systems
The goal is to enable a smooth transition from current environments, based on existing widely used and standardized cryptographic techniques, to systems providing enhanced security through quantum-safe cryptographic functions. By designing a portfolio of high-security quantum-safe crypto services, we will fill the gaps that currently threaten its long-term security properties. This will enable systems to generate a secure root of trust that can be used for interacting with cloud services, accessing corporate services, performing banking and eCommerce transactions, along with a wide range of other services.
A focus is the migration of high-assurance devices such as the Hardware Security Module (HSM). The next generation of IBM’s HSM will already incorporate a quantum-safe root of trust, which was provided by our team.
As a consequence, IBM z16 (released in May 2022) is the industry’s first system which leverages quantum-safe protection across multiple layers of firmware.
Lattice-based Cryptography Accelerator
The emerging of lattice-based cryptography is being accompanied and supported by a widespread effort against the key challenges of performance and flexibility. Cryptographic algorithms often require a time heavy and repeated collaboration between processing units with very different characteristics that often only have in common the need for programmability and expandability of their specialized functions.
In this project we work on a modular hardware processing unit capable of off-loading most of the CRYSTALS’ algorithms required processing with a high level of efficiency and programmability. The processing unit consists of a cluster of highly independent processing elements that maximize internal and cross elements pipelining without support of any type of centralized control. The key focus is on the development of a highly efficient, pipelined and yet programmable polynomial math processing element and its capability to efficiently communicate with a Keccak unit equipped with few additional capabilities and a routing element acting as interface towards the rest of the system.
Hardware Security Module Orchestration
Today, even the traditional customers have started to move towards a private / public (hybrid) cloud infrastructure, and the security awareness of the new public cloud users is constantly increasing. All of them are looking for a high-end security solution that can scale from on-prem installations to hyperscale cloud environments. Hence, we have to provide scalable, cloud enabled HSM solutions.