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A Basis For All Cryptography

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Artist's representation of cryptography.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers recently demonstrated that the problem with indistinguishability obfuscation is a variation on a different cryptographic problem, called efficient functional encryption.

Credit: MIT News

The inability to practically apply indistinguishability obfuscation (IO) to deliver secure cryptography may be mitigated with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers' exploration of an efficient method for functional encryption.

"If you want to do obfuscation and get all of crypto, everything that you can imagine, from standard assumptions, all that you have to do is solve this very specific problem, making functional encryption just a little bit more efficient," says MIT professor Vinod Vaikuntanathan.

IO's requirement is that an adversary cannot ascertain which of two versions of an operation a program is performing, instead of making it impossible to determine what operations the program is executing.

The process for building IO schemes from multilinear maps was an important step, but it is unclear any proposed map construction methods will ensure security.

Meanwhile, functional encryption is a technique for executing some operation on an encrypted file that yields an intelligible result without leaking any further information about the file's contents. Although encryption time is proportional to the length of the file being encrypted with standard encryption, the efficiencies of the best functional-encryption schemes also include a factor proportional to the size of the operation's result.

Nevertheless, Cornell University professor Rafael Pass says, "functional encryption is a significantly simpler-looking primitive, so [the MIT] work opens a new avenue for getting secure constructions of IO."

From MIT News
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