Anyone who has contact with organisations such as GCHQ and the Heilbronn Institute has probably heard someone say, “We are at war”. I heard this from Richard Pinch, who was speaking at the Kings College London mathematics students at their weekend meeting in Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park. I thought Richard’s talk interesting, in that he mentioned various cryptosystems which seemed to have dropped out of public consciousness long ago, such as the knapsack and McEleice systems.
It is well known that some of the most popular public-key cryptosystems, such as RSA and El-Gamal, would be vulnerable to a quantum computer, were one ever to be built. Richard’s talk did make me wonder whether the security services are aware that a quantum computer has been, or is about to be, built, and are looking for alternative systems which would not be vulnerable.
Anyway, if this is interesting to you, here is your chance to get support for research on cybersecurity (if you work at a UK higher education institution or approved independent research organisation).
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) have today issued a joint call for “research consortia to explore current and future cyber security challenges”. The EPSRC person responsible ensures me that, although the final version of the text is a bit social-science heavy, it is their intention that mathematics will be at the focus of the call.
If this is for you, take a look at www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/calls/open/Pages/ceres.aspx.