Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


08:55 AM
Connect Directly

Next-Gen Crypto Method Will Help Secure Mobile Apps

Certicom will demo new Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC)-based mobile ticketing, RFID tag technologies at the RSA conference

The company whose founder was one of the creators of the next-generation encryption algorithm Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) will demonstrate new real-world deployments of the technology next week at the RSA Conference 2008 in San Francisco -- in new secure digital barcode and RFID tag implementations.

Certicom will demonstrate these ECC-based systems at its booth on the RSA Conference show floor. ECC is a streamlined public key encryption algorithm that uses fewer resources than its predecessor, RSA. “ECC gives you the most security per bit of any known public key scheme,” says Certicom’s founder and chief cryptographer Scott Vanstone.

ECC is also deployed in RIM BlackBerry email, Microsoft’s Vista operating system, and digital passports, and it is licensed by the National Security Agency, for instance. ECC uses smaller keys, which saves on computational, bandwidth, and power resources, says Vanstone, who helped create the technology. For 128-bit AES encryption, for example, ECC uses 256 bits for its passkeys, and RSA, 3,072 bits, he says. “And if you go to the 256-bit AES, you need 512 bits in ECC for that level of security, and over 15,000 bits of RSA for the equivalent security. You can see ECC scales linearly.”

BlackBerry devices, for example, have a 521-bit key. “If you wanted to use RSA instead, it would use 15,000 bits to get the same security level [as ECC],” Vanstone says.

Even so, adopting a new cryptographic platform not surprisingly has been a long process. ECC came on the scene in the mid-1980s, and although it’s gained momentum, RSA is still much more prevalent. But Certicom’s demonstrations at RSA of these two new commercial deployments of ECC signal that the algorithm is gaining ground. “ECC is coming into its own. It’s being widely deployed,” Vanstone says.

Certicom will demo ECC-based barcode technology developed by an unnamed client of Certicom’s -- as a solution for the pharmaceutical industry. The RFID tags are for tracking drugs through their distribution channel, and Certicom’s client needed multiple digital signatures to be stored on the tags, so it selected ECC. Vanstone says RSA would have only allowed one signature, while ECC gave them five.

The company also will show off a new mobile e-ticketing application it helped develop for a major airline that consists of a mobile “ticket” -- a bar code -- that can be read and authenticated via the display screen of the passenger’s handheld device.

Meanwhile, Vanstone says encryption adoption overall is no longer just a luxury. “Six years ago, security encryption was a ‘nice to have,’ and today it’s a must-have."

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

  • Certicom Corp. (Toronto: CIC)

    Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    Stop Defending Everything
    Kevin Kurzawa, Senior Information Security Auditor,  2/12/2020
    Small Business Security: 5 Tips on How and Where to Start
    Mike Puglia, Chief Strategy Officer at Kaseya,  2/13/2020
    5 Common Errors That Allow Attackers to Go Undetected
    Matt Middleton-Leal, General Manager and Chief Security Strategist, Netwrix,  2/12/2020
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Current Issue
    6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
    This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
    How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
    The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
    PyYAML 5.1 through 5.1.2 has insufficient restrictions on the load and load_all functions because of a class deserialization issue, e.g., Popen is a class in the subprocess module. NOTE: this issue exists because of an incomplete fix for CVE-2017-18342.
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
    In ruamel.yaml through 0.16.7, the load method allows remote code execution if the application calls this method with an untrusted argument. In other words, this issue affects developers who are unaware of the need to use methods such as safe_load in these use cases.
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
    A vulnerability in the Cisco ASA that could allow a remote attacker to successfully authenticate using the Cisco AnyConnect VPN client if the Secondary Authentication type is LDAP and the password is left blank, providing the primary credentials are correct. The vulnerabilities is due to improper in...
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
    A vulnerability in Cisco Unified Communications Manager could allow an unauthenticated, remote attacker to conduct a cross-site scripting (XSS) attack on the affected software. The vulnerabilities is due to improper input validation of certain parameters passed to the affected software. An attacker ...
    PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
    An issue was discovered in OpenStack Nova before 18.2.4, 19.x before 19.1.0, and 20.x before 20.1.0. It can leak consoleauth tokens into log files. An attacker with read access to the service's logs may obtain tokens used for console access. All Nova setups using novncproxy are affected. This is rel...