Krill Prize Laureate 2014
University of Haifa
Dr. Or Dunkelman (ד”ר אור דונקלמן)
Crypanalysis of symmetric-Key Primitives
Dr. Dunkelman’s research is in the field of cryptanalysis of symmetric-key primitives. Such primitives, like block ciphers, stream ciphers, and hash functions, are key components in computer security solutions. Given their wide deployment and usage, and the multitude of schemes, systems, and protocols that rely on their security, it is essential to assess the security of such primitives on a continuous basis, to ensure that only secure primitives are used. As part of his research, Dr. Dunkelman analyzes these primitives, trying to identify weaknesses in their design. This is done by applying existing cryptanalytic techniques to the various primitives. Once a weakness is identified (by a successful attack), measures to change the systems using the affected primitive can be taken, thus improving the overall security of systems which rely on cryptography. In addition to the analysis of specific primitives, Dr. Dunkelman works on developing new cryptanalytic techniques. Such new techniques allow better assessment and better understanding of the security offered by primitives, and contribute to securing communications infrastructure such as the Internet.
Dr. Dunkelman’s research plan is to continue pursuing the analysis of symmetric-key primitives. At the same time, the final goal will be shifted from just breaking the primitive towards studying the delicate interaction between the primitive studied, and the protocol (or system) that uses it (i.e., the effects of the break on the protocol/system).Further improving the state of the art in computer security, Dr. Dunkelman is working on developing new symmetric-key primitives, which can address specific needs. This line of research takes into account both the security of the primitive and the efficiency of the proposed primitive. In many cases, the system forces some resource-constraint on the primitive (e.g., limit on the computation time, the size of the circuit, or the energy consumption). Balancing these two (somewhat) contradictory requirements is an ongoing research problem that Dr. Dunkelman is working on, and will continue to pursue.
Finally, the last research direction which interests Dr. Dunkelman at the moment is the issue of privacy in the digital world. The recent advances in computing and storage technologies carry with them many advantages, but a few disadvantages as well. One of these disadvantages is the deteriorating state of privacy online. For example, today it is extremely easy to track an individual’s activity with very little effort. States can (and some do) monitor all their citizens’ online activity, thus realizing the apocalyptic world predicted by Orwell in “1984”. This research direction deals with devising new methods to offer privacy, or analyze existing solutions to improve their applicability. As part of this research line, Dr. Dunkelman (along with his coauthor) has devised a secure and private method to realize biometric databases, such as the one planned in the state of Israel. This research direction will be further pursued in the upcoming few years, to assure that our communications infrastructure is as secure as it offers privacy to its users.