Title: The security of cryptographic algorithms in the age of parallel computing

Proposer: Hans-Wolfgang Loidl

Suggested supervisors: Hans-Wolfgang Loidl

Goal: Assess the sensitivity of several commonly used cryptographic algorithms against attacks using massive parallelism.


Most commonly used cryptographic algorithms, such as (asymmetric) RSA encryption, rely on one particular operation being computationally expensive. Thus, the security of such an algorithm relies on the total compute power available for attacks. With the advent of multi-core machines, parallel proessing is becoming a main-stream technology, which drastically increases the total compute power available to normal users.

The goal of this project is to assess how sensitive commonly used cryptographic algorithms are against attacks using massive parallelism. This study involves a classification of algorithms and a summary of perceived advantages, disadvantages and sensitivity towards attacks. Based on a selection of these algorithms, parallel programs should be developed that try to break the encryption provided by these algorithms. As a result of running these attacks against a set of realistic, encrypted inputs, this project should summarise the strengths and weaknesses of these algorithms, and give guidelines on suggested key sizes that should be used in today's context.

Resources required:

Degree of difficulty: Moderate

Background needed:


  1. Handbook of Applied Cryptography, by Alfred J. Menezes, Paul C. van Oorschot and Scott A. Vanstone
  2. Cryptography: An Introduction, by Nigel Smart

Last modified: Tue Jan 18 19:46:06 2011