Vol. 22, No. 2, Winter 2005.
May I firstly thank you all for helping to make 2005 a good year for IACR by attending our conferences and workshops. Although the attendance at all three of our flagship conference reduced again this year, this was broadly in line with with our expectations and planning. Our workshops were well attended with both FSE and PKC reporting substantial increases in attendance on previous years and this shows a promising trend. In all cases our Program Chairs and their Committees delivered strong technical programmes. As a result IACR remains a strong organisation that is clearly focused on advancing research in the field and supporting you, our members.
2005 was a busy year in many respects, some of the key events included:
Eurocrypt 2005 was held in Aarhus, marking a return to Denmark after 15 years. In 1990 the General Chair was Peter Landrock and the Program Chair was Ivan Damgaard. This year Ivan moved roles to be our General Chair with Ronald Cramer as Program Chair. The event was most enjoyable, housed in Scandinavian Congress Center it provided us with an excellent setting for the presentation of the 2005 IACR Fellowships. These were awarded to Kevin McCurley, Gus Simmons and Jacques Stern all of whom joined us at the conference to receive their felllowship plaques in person. This conference seemed to mark the next stage of assaults on hash functions of which we would hear more at Crypto.
It was most unfortunate that the winner of the best paper at Crypto, Professor Xiaoyun Wang, was not granted a visa to visit the USA in time for Crypto. She was joint author of the first two papers in the conference, both on efficiently finding collisions in the SHA family of hash functions. On behalf of the Association I spent some considerable time in email and telephone discussions with the State Department of the USA firstly trying to "unblock" the granting of her visa, and subsequently trying to establish how to improve the protocol for overseas visitors (particularly Chinese) to the USA. I am acutely aware that while I was contacting the State Department there were many other senior and highly-respected members of our community also applying pressure to the US Government to resolve the situation. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful and Professor Wang could not attend Crypto. It seems clear that IACR and its members pressure is insufficient to speed up the processing of our conference delegates' visa applications - at least we now know how the protocol works and we should be able to guide delegates and authors more proactively in the future, but this situation remains one that we need to keep a careful eye on.
During the course of Crypto, we also learned of the death of Thomas Beth who passed away early in the morning of Wednesday, August 17 at the age of 55. Thomas organised the meeting in Burg Feuerstein in 1982 that was to lead to the series of conferences now known as "Eurocrypt". His passing means that the Association has lost a great character and a great researcher and pioneer.
But of course Crypto was not dominated by sadness, and the conference was host to Ralph Merkle's IACR Distinguished Lecture - and one that provided a unique insight into both early cryptographic history and the emergence of nanotechnology - only someone of Ralph's capabilities could have presented those two topics seamlessly in a single lecture!
At our membership meeting I was able to announce that I had reached an agreement with Alfed Hoffmann of Springer-Verlag that they would provide all our membership with free online access to all our publications - this produced rapturous applause from the meeting. I report on this matter later in this report.
This year Asiacrypt was held in India for the first time. The IACR was represented by our Vice-President Bart Preneel who is no stranger to the venue, Chennai. I was particularly saddened not to be able to attend (I have never been to India) and I understand that the scientific programme was of high quality and everything worked smoothly.
My Board colleagues report that our General Chair, Pandu Rangan faced many difficult challenges - there was a monsoon. Chennai was hard-hit, with 24 cm of rain in 24 hours. There was water in the streets, knee-deep in places, but this did not dent his organisational skills. One of our invited speakers could not attend - again no problem. Then the conference hotel was occupied by the India and Sri Lanka cricket sides, who had their match rained out for three of the five days. The lobby was full of fans and policemen. No problem. Then on the last day the conference venue was preempted by Bill Gates and a bunch of ministers, with all the attendant security cordons, so we had to switch to a nearby hotel. Again, no problem. All in all a very impressive performance - well done Pandu Rangan! Let's hope that our next Asiacrypts will be less eventful for the organisers.
The Board of IACR is pleased to announce that the The Theory of Cryptology Conference is now an IACR sponsored event and is officially adopted within our workshop series of events.
The IACR election was held towards the end of the year with the results being extremely close - we welcome Yvo Desmedt, Stuart Haber and Antoine Joux to the Board for 2006 and bid a fond farewell to Ed Dawson, Jean-Jacques Quisquater and Rebecca Wright. Each of these departing individuals has contributed a great deal to the IACR in the past years and, on your behalf, I thank them for their efforts and continued support of our Association.
Online Access to Publications
Our relationship with Springer-Verlag who publishes both our Proceedings and our Journal remains strong and mutually beneficial. The most significant event that I am delighted to report is that Springer has now implemented a "Reading Room" dedicated to all IACR Conference and Workshop Proceedings. Currently the software is in the final stages of beta testing and you will all hear from our Membership Secretary early in the New Year when it goes live.
In closing this report, it only remains for me to thank you all for your continued interest and support for our Association - it is through you that IACR remains the premier organisation for cryptology in the world - thankyou.
The 2005 election is now complete. Five candidates stood for the three open positions of Director. The three candidates with the highest number of votes were elected. These new directors whose terms will expire on 31 December 2008 are:
- Yvo Desmedt
- Stuart Haber
- Antoine Joux
The Revision of the bylaws also passed with 170 in favor, 45 against.
More information on this year's election is available here.
The issue of Visas to attend IACR events has become a significant issue. Both the next EUROCRYPT in St. Petersburg, Russia and CRYPTO in Santa Barbara, CA, USA require Visas for many to attend.
Information on the US visas can be found here, The time to obtain a US visa is variable, and may involve a visit to the Consulate for an interview. This has taken over 3 months for some individuals in the past. It is advisable to submit Visa applications as soon as possible to avoid last minute problems.
We hope that you will consider devoting some of your time and effort to nominating or endorsing an IACR-Fellow candidate. IACR members can nominate or endorse other IACR members for this prestigious position. Nominations and endorsements are due on December 31, 2005. More information can be found here.
Our Association has lost a great character and a great pioneer. The IACR president has written a brief note honoring the late Prof. Dr. Thomas Beth.
- Cryptanalysis of Skipjack Reduced to 31 Rounds Using Impossible Differentials, Eli Biham, Alex Biryukov, Adi Shamir
Presents a cryptanalytic technique, based on impossible differentials, to show that recovering keys of Skipjack reduced from 32 to 31 rounds can be performed faster than exhaustive search.
- Secure Classical Bit Commitment Using Fixed Capacity Communication Channels, Adrian Kent
If mutually mistrustful parties A and B control two or more appropriately located sites, special relativity can be used to guarantee that a pair of messages exchanged by A and B are independent.
- Polynomial and Normal Bases for Finite Fields, Joachim Gathen and Michael Nöcker
Discusses two different ways to speed up exponentiation in nonprime finite fields: reduction of the total number of operations, and fast computation of a single operation.
- The Complexity of Certain Multi-Exponentiation Techniques in Cryptography, Roberto M. Avanzi
Describes, analyzes and compares some combinations of multi-exponentiation algorithms with representations of the exponents.
- Partial Key Recovery Attack Against RMAC, Lars R. Knudsen and Chris J. Mitchell
Describes a new “partial” key recovery attacks against the RMAC block cipher based Message Authentication Code scheme.
- Analysis and Design of Distributed Key Distribution Centers, Carlo Blundo and Paolo D’Arco
Describes Distributed Key Distribution Centers in terms of an information theory model, and presents lower bounds for the resources needed to set up and manage a distributed center.
The top six downloads from the ePrint archive for the period May 18th through November 22, 2005. The first two have been noted in this newsletter before and still remain heavily accessed.
- Collisions for Hash Functions MD4, MD5, HAVAL-128 and RIPEMD, X. Wang, D. Feng, X. Lai and H. Yu
This is the paper for a series of collisions in the hash functions MD4, MD5, HAVAL-128 and RIPEMD that were announced at CRYPTO 2004 Rump Session by Ms. X. Wang.
- The Misuse of RC4 in Microsoft Word and Excel, Hongjun Wu
Reports a flaw in Microsoft Word and Excel's use of the stream cipher RC4. When an encrypted document gets modified and saved, the initialization vector remains the same allowing information to be recovered.
- Security and Privacy Issues in E-passports, Ari Juels, David Molnar, and David Wagner
This paper explores the privacy and security implications of next-generation identity authentication technology in the context of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard for e-passports.
- How to Cheat at Chess: A Security Analysis of the Internet Chess Club, J. Black, M. Cochran and R. Gardner
The Internet Chess Club (ICC) is a popular online chess server with more than 30,000 members. While the security protocol used between client and server claims sufficient security for sensitive information to be transmitted, this paper shows that this is not true.
- High Speed Architecture for Galois/Counter Mode of Operation (GCM), Bo Yang, Sambit Mishra, Ramesh Karri
Describes a fully pipelined implementation of AES and GCM that can sustain 34 Gbps without using exotic hardware technology.
- Picking Virtual Pockets using Relay Attacks on Contactless Smartcard Systems, Ziv Kfir and Avishai Wool
This paper demonstrates that the assumptions about RFID based smartcards only operating at a short distance does not hold and suggests a low cost system that can operate at an unlimited distance between the attacker and the victim.
Following a suggestion by several people, we are now providing RSS feeds of the latest papers submitted to the IACR ePrint archive. This information is updated once an hour. More information on available feeds and formats is available here.
Current announcements on the IACR Website for Open Positions in Cryptology.
- University of Bonn
- University of Tsukuba, Japan
- Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
- University of Waterloo
- University College London
- Indiana University
- Stevens Institute of Technology
- Université catholique de Louvain
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