Increase data security with new encryption solutions

Increase data security with new encryption solutions

Researchers of the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security and the Institute KASTEL at KIT have handed over the results of their feasibility study on "Encrypted Computing" to the Agency for Innovation in Cybersecurity.

In December 2021, the Cyber Agency had awarded its first tendered project on "Encrypted Computing" to the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security and to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), as subcontractors. A feasibility study was to identify potential "Encrypted Computing" applications that could be used in the future in the area of internal and external security. The main objective was to assess the security properties and to compare the performance of these methods depending on their application scenarios.

Encrypted computing and similar technologies are seen as forward-looking approaches to increase data security. "With cryptography, data processing and data protection can be reconciled," says Prof. Dr. Jörn Müller-Quade from the KASTEL Institute at KIT. Until now, the rule in modern cryptography has been that before you can continue working with encrypted data, you have to decrypt it. CISPA faculty Dr. Nico Döttling and Prof. Dr. Jörn Müller-Quade want to change this. Both researchers are experts in the field of encrypted computing, a family of encryption methods that can also be used to process data in encrypted form. Decryption to plain text is only necessary again if the results are to be viewed, but this is not necessary for calculations. Sensitive and security-critical data can thus be analyzed, but at the same time kept secret.

In particular, the efficiency of currently known algorithms for such cryptography is a major problem for researchers. "Encrypted computing is not a universal solution for secure computing. However, the field still holds enormous potential, especially if even more efficient algorithms are found," says Döttling. Müller-Quade adds, "In particular, it is currently not a universal solution because it may not be efficient enough for some applications. Maybe there are even principle limits for some applications. We would be happy to have a follow-up project. By being open to technology, we can find more efficient solutions for different levels of security."

"Our mission is to promote innovative technologies for homeland and homeland security applications that are still far from being ready for the market," says Robert Seidel, project manager at the cyber agency. "Encrypted computing fits very well into this picture. I'm pleased that in KASTEL/KIT and CISPA we were able to attract two such research-strong partners for our project." The feasibility study is the first step of the cyber agency's research activities in the field of encrypted computing. Further research programs are to follow: "As early as next year, we want to use a new call for proposals to encourage cryptologists to continue addressing our questions," says project manager Dr. Tanja Zeeb.

The project team (from left): Dr. Tanja Zeeb (Cyberagentur), Robin Berger (KIT), Prof. Dr. Jörn Müller-Quade (KIT), Laurin Benz, wiss. Mitarbeiter (KIT), Anne Müller (CISPA), Dr. Nico Döttling (CISPA) (Image: KASTEL, KIT).


KASTEL was established as a national competence center for IT security by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Since January 1, 2021, it has been established as a permanent institution at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and in the Helmholtz Association.

As one of the leading international research institutions, KASTEL contributes to the interdisciplinary research of holistic solutions for security and data protection of complex networked systems. This spans the arc from basic research to application research including timely transfer to industry, society and politics. KASTEL explores the quantification of security and privacy, guided by the unity of research, education, and innovation.

About CISPA:

CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security is a major federal research institution within the Helmholtz Association. Its scientists research information security in all its facets. They conduct cutting-edge basic research as well as innovative application-oriented research and work on pressing challenges in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and data protection. CISPA research results find their way into industrial applications and products that are available worldwide. In this way, CISPA strengthens the competitiveness of Germany and Europe. It also promotes talent and is a cadre for excellently trained specialists and managers for industry. In this way, CISPA also carries its know-how into the future.

About the Cyber Agency:

The Agency for Innovation in Cybersecurity GmbH (Cyber Agency) was founded in 2020 as a fully in-house federal company under the joint leadership of the Federal Ministry of Defense and the Federal Ministry of the Interior and for Home Affairs by the federal government with the aim of taking an application-strategy-oriented and interdepartmental view of internal and external security in the field of cybersecurity. Against this background, the work of the Cyber Agency is primarily aimed at the institutionalized implementation of highly innovative projects, which are associated with a high risk with regard to the achievement of objectives, but at the same time can have a very high disruptive potential if successful.

The Cyber Agency is headed by Prof. Dr. Christian Hummert as Research Director and Managing Director and Daniel Mayer as Commercial Director.