IT Students Develop Method to Block Encryption with Multi-Level Protection Against Hacking

Students at the NSU IT Department (ITD) presented a new encryption algorithm at the International Big Data Conference. The algorithm created by the students can protect information fr om unauthorized access and is designed for a wide range of applications.

Moscow hosted the annual International Big Data Conference in September. The event brings together creators of new technology in the field of big data, business NSU was represented at the conference by Dmitry Shishlyannikov, a third-year IT Department student, who presented the paper, «Block encryption based on modular arithmetic and information compression methods».

The basis for the report was a study that Dmitry conducted with Nikita Zbitnev (3rd year, ITD) and Dmitry Gridin (2nd year, ITD). The scientific adviser was Sergey Krendelev, Assistant Professor NSU ITD. The project is being implemented in a joint ITD laboratory with support from JetBrains Research. Dmitry Shishlyannikov described the algorithm:

– At the conference, we talked about the encryption algorithm developed by our team. The algorithm is based on modular arithmetic and information compression methods. We have studied a lot of material about these spheres. A lot of work was also done to optimize the algorithm. In the first versions of 1 GB was encrypted in 63 minutes, using the current version, encryption of the same file takes place in 2.5 minutes, and this is not the lim it.

The authors of the Project explained that the algorithm has three main features. The first is «blocks». The file is not encrypted all at once, but is broken up into small blocks. The encryption work is carried out on the basis of these small blocks. That means one big, difficult problem is divided into many easy small ones. This makes it possible to use the algorithm on weak devices and in distributed system.

The second feature of the algorithm is symmetry. For encryption and decryption, the same key is used. If an attacker enters an incorrect key during decryption, the algorithm will work but the data decrypted will not have any connection to the original message. The third main Project is probability. Shishlyannikov explained how this helps:

– When encrypting the same text with the same key, the encrypted message will be different each time. This greatly complicates hacking the algorithm, including attempts with a quantum computer. 

According to the developers the flexibility of the settings allows you to apply the algorithm in almost any field. Depending on the purpose, you can change the size of the block, the encrypted character or the key. The most relevant development for these students will be for the Internet of things (IoT) and working with big data, since the algorithm is light enough to be used on weak devices. On powerful devices, the algorithm works so quickly you can encrypt huge amounts of data in a relatively short time.