On August 21-25, 2023, the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) held a post-quantum cryptographic (PQC) workshop for which InfoSec Global’s cryptographic researcher Victoria de Quehen was a co-organizer. This was the second BIRS conference held on this topic. This year, the workshop was held concurrently with a workshop in Bristol, UK funded by the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS).

As the standards of PQC are still being developed, this workshop was intended primarily to develop new research by bringing together 70 leading researchers from around the world. There were 8 working groups, each focused on a different mathematical or cryptographic problem. The format included daily collaborations between the groups in Banff and Bristol, as well as researchers online.

The workshop focused on isogeny-based cryptography, which attracted media attention last year when one prominent isogeny-based algorithm SIKE was broken late in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) PQC standardization process. However, the area of isogeny-based cryptography has other well-known algorithms, including digital signature algorithms with compact public keys and signatures. Moreover, the very mathematics behind the break of SIKE, can ironically instead be used constructively to create new isogeny-based cryptographic algorithms.

Unlike many research workshops, this BIRS workshop included several participants who work in a corporate setting. It also had an industry panel, including Victoria, who represented InfoSec Global, to bring an industry viewpoint to the event. As Samuel Jaques, a cryptography Professor at the University of Waterloo, explains, “It brought together almost all of the leading experts in isogeny-based cryptography from both companies and universities, and allowed us to tackle some difficult cryptography problems with the backdrop of Banff’s beautiful setting.”

InfoSec Global remains committed to contributing to the research community, as together we strive to develop new PQC standards. ‘While InfoSec Global supports the recent selection of Kyber, Dilithium, FALCON, and SPHINCS+ by NIST,” states Victoria, “it is important to remember that the research of today is what creates the cryptographic algorithms of tomorrow.”

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