Dr. Rainer Steinwandt Awarded 2018 NATO Science for Peace and Security Partnership Prize

FAU’s Dr. Rainer Steinwandt was awarded the 2018 NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Partnership Prize at the NATO SPS program’s 60th anniversary on November 29, 2018. The anniversary was celebrated with a gala at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, where Dr. Steinwandt and his team were one of three outstanding multi-year projects to earn an SPS Partnership Prize award. Dr. Steinwandt is the chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences and director of FAU's Center for Cryptology and Information Security. Together with the project leaders from Slovakia (Slovak University of Technology), Israel (Tel Aviv University), and France (Jean Monnet University), he received the award for a project in the area of cyber defense. Over the course of three years, this project explored the Secure Implementation of Post-Quantum Cryptography.

Quantum computers have far greater processing power than the computers available today, leaving current security and encryption vulnerable to attacks. Dr. Steinwandt is working to create security solutions for encryption and digital signatures that can remain secure in an era where attacks from powerful, large-scale quantum computers will soon become a reality. The project team brought together mathematicians, computer scientists, and electrical engineers, making it possible to explore cryptographic security in a comprehensive manner. In addition to conducting theoretical analyses, the project leveraged experiments with different types of "side-channel attacks," exploring how an attacker could exploit side-channel information that could be obtained by measuring electromagnetic emanation or power consumption. By studying these side-channel vulnerabilities, Steinwandt and team found ways to prevent such attacks.

NATO's Science for Peace and Security program picked the award winners among projects that were successfully completed in the last 10 years in one of the program's key priorities. In addition to innovation, selection criteria for the 2018 NATO SPS Partnership award included partnership and the involvement of young scientists. The research effort involving FAU included multiple collaboration visits at Tel Aviv University, and the cooperation in this project was judged to be excellent. A few months ago, Rainer Steinwandt was awarded another project within the NATO SPS framework -- this time a collaborative effort with colleagues in Slovakia, Malta, and Spain, devoted to "Secure Communication in the Quantum Era."

Dr. Steinwandt’s advances in quantum-safe cryptography offers newfound long-term security at a time when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is currently in the process of identifying "post-quantum standards" -- cryptographic solutions that do not succumb to attacks with quantum computers.

Researchers from FAU's Center for Cryptology and Information Security (CCIS) co-author multiple submissions in this effort. In April, 2018, NIST held its inaugural Post-Quantum Cryptography Standardization conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, co-located with the 9th International Conference on Post-Quantum Cryptography, where FAU's Rainer Steinwandt served as general chair and program co-chair. In the Spring of 2018, a team at FAU's CCIS completed, in a collaboration with Saarland University (Germany), a report for the German Federal Office for Information Security on the status of quantum computing and its cryptographic impact, further evidencing that FAU's cryptography research is truly recognized at the international level.