Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam: Former President of India
  Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam    
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20-12-2004 : New Delhi
Cryptography and its multi-dimensions

I am indeed delighted to address the 5th International Conference on Cryptology INDOCRYPT 2004 organised by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences (IMSc) in partnership with the Society of Electronic Transaction and Security (SETS). I greet the organizers, crypto scientists and technologists, mathematicians, participants and distinguished guests. I understand that the theme of the Conference is ?Cryptology and its application to secure network communications.? This is a very important area especially since we are moving into the era of e-business, e-marketing, e-commerce and e-banking. I am sure that this Conference will provide value addition to the knowledge wealth resident in India in Cryptology and enable us to design our communication systems to conform to international standards. This Conference may also contribute towards increasing the knowledge base of the world community in the area of Cryptology and Information Security. Before I discuss the application aspects of Cryptography to secure communication, I would like to mention about Ramanujan?s work which we discussed recently in his home town on number theory and its application in communication networks, Cryptography and Information Security.


Communication models

One of the important applications of Number Theory is in designing error correcting codes which are robust against noise introduced in communication channels. The idealistic communication models can be described as follows:

?Source to Encoder to Channel (added with noise) to Decoder to Receiver?

The problems of defining a suitable measure of information and of efficiency of coding have been satisfactorily solved. The second problem of coding is concerned with finding a method whereby for each message received we can identify the message transmitted with the least amount of error, even when the transmitted message is corrupted by noise. The fundamental theorem of information theory assures us that under certain conditions this can be done. The construction of error correcting codes has been a difficult and fascinating mathematical problem. Over the years, starting in the 1950?s, several error correcting codes have been developed, which have made it possible for us to think of reliable and accurate communication over even very weak and fading channels. To cite just one example, by now we take it for granted that a man-made vehicle can travel to the moon, or mars, or even beyond, and send back crystal-clear pictures of what it sees. This would not have been possible without the invention of error-correcting codes In the area of analogue signal processing one uses a mathematical technique called Fourier Transform. When one enters the digital world a different tool called Discrete Fourier Transform is used. Whereas, if one has to analyse noise signals, engineers have recently come to the conclusion that an efficient mathematical tool would be the Ramanujan Fourier Transformation or in short RFT. This once again demonstrates that though Ramanujan did the work on RFT purely to satisfy his urge to explore the beauty of mathematics, it had come to be of use in day-to-applications like communications- almost a century later.


Cryptography and Information Security

Cryptography - the art of hiding information is central to information security. There are two major ways by which information can be cryptographically secured in computer-mediated communication. One is symmetric encryption where the same key is used for encryption as well as decryption. The other is the Asymmetric key cryptography, wherein the encryption key and the decryption key are different. The latter can be also used for Public-Key Encryption. Number Theory once epitomized pure mathematics. Encryption is the cryptographic function that hides data by making it indecipherable to anyone not authorized to see it. A separate but related cryptographic function digitally signs data to prevent unauthorized users from altering it. Karl Gauss, perhaps the greatest mathematician ever, is reported to have said that while mathematics is the queen of science, number theory is the queen of mathematics. However, even this ?purest? form of mathematics now finds application in cryptography, which enables Secure Communications. Very simple mathematics, when cleverly used, occasionally produces spectacular practical results and indeed the first public key crypto systems needed only the most rudimentary number theory. For example, the widely used RSA public key encryption algorithm, invented in 1983 by Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adelman, is based on the difficulty of factoring a product of two prime numbers p and q, given only their product n = p times q.

The time and cost needed for breaking an encryption algorithm increases exponentially with the increase in the encryption bits. For example 64-bit Encryption takes one year for a given computational power and 128 bit encryption takes about absurdly thousands of years. We also realize that the USA is using the 1024 bit algorithms and more.


Advances in Encryption

Present advances in encryption use much more sophisticated mathematics. The RSA algorithm is today challenged by so-called Elliptic Curve Cryptography, which requires much shorter key lengths to achieve the same level of security. It is now known that an RSA encryption with a key length of 1,024 bits is only as secure as ECC encryption with a 163 bit key length. Similarly, RSA encryption with a 2,048 bit key length is only as secure as an ECC encryption with a 233 bit key. Elliptic curves are among the most advanced and most beautiful branches of number theory, and they have been used also in proving the so-called ?Fermat?s last theorem,? a problem that took more than 400 years to solve! But it is interesting that the research community is now also beginning to use elliptic curves for cryptography, and specifically, for asymmetric encryption. It may be mentioned that like many number theorists over the years, Ramanujan also did some work on number theory. Subsequent innovations in cryptographic technologies are almost too numerous to name. Server-based, centrally managed encryption is beginning to replace desktop-to-desktop encryption. Cryptographic technologies are becoming both pervasive and invisible in computing and communication devices.

Recent advances in encryption, with AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), and in public-key systems, with elliptical curve cryptography, have helped transform cryptographic technology. Just as AES has helped make encryption commonplace, elliptic curve cryptography (ECC) has popularized public-key systems. Although using cryptographic technologies has always been challenging, several trends in the industry show promise for making it easier. New capabilities for managing encryption keys and policies from a central server, for instance, can improve information security and ease security management and can be integrated into the message oriented application architecture seamlessly.


Cryptography and Number Theory

Thus, cryptography motivates a new generation of students to study number theory. Cryptography aside, applied number theory might also mean communication networks. Expander graphs are basic building blocks in the design of networks and have vast number of applications in areas of computer and communication sciences. In the last two decades the theory of Ramanujan Graphs has gained prominence primarily for two reasons, first, from a practical point of view these graphs resolved an external problem in communication network theory and second, from a more aesthetic point of view.

In the digital world, bits and bytes represent knowledge that in turn represents the nation's wealth. For example, the source codes of the software that a company sells, the long term strategies of companies, bank accounts, the purchases through e-Commerce and even our land records are in digital form today. Movement of bits across the network creates further wealth in the digital era. More than 25% of most nations soon will be directly or indirectly connected with Information and Communication products. In this new world, ultimately the economic and physical security of a nation can only be achieved when that nation also has information security. National security is tightly intertwined with Information Security. Nations that are capable of generating and managing information in a secure way will become world leaders and world economic super powers.

Now I would like to discuss about the importance of Cryptography in the present day context.


Internet & Information Security

In the early 1980s the art and science of Cryptology found application only in the strategic sectors in the Government, embassies and military establishments. With the proliferation of the internet as a open net work for communication the critical role of cryptology and information security in securing the traffic over the internet and extranet is being realized by Governments, corporate, R & D institutions, academia and individuals from all over the world. Information security is a process which will protect the information assets from the external and internal threats by building survivable systems.


Cryptography ? Wealth Generator

Wealth Generation and Protection are two important facet of business management. Since information possesses intrinsic wealth generation properties especially in the information age, information security becomes the wealth protector. This information security is accomplished through cryptography which is a set of processes and tools. Since wealth protected is equivalent to deemed wealth generated the cryptography can also be seen as wealth generator. All organizations are interested in business continuity and growth. The threat to business continuity and growth may be in the form of an attack on a company?s infrastructure or on its reputation. Attacks on the reputation of a business are more difficult to overcome and alleviate than any other form of attack. Hence, deployment of information security measures is now important to protect the reputation of businesses.


Threat Perception and Design of Information Security Systems

The Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT) has reported that many organizational website belonging to various Indian organisations were defaced during the period June 2004 to October 2004. These are all attacks by external entities which have been reported. I am sure many attacks by external and internal entities have not been reported. If we take that also into account situation could be serious.

There is a need for estimation of threat perception and the risk assessment of each type of attack on our systems. This should enable us to quantify and work out our information security plan for protecting the e-governance system of the Government aimed at improving the services to our people and e-business systems of corporate and the banks. The aim should be to provide robust system with state-of-the are technology at a competitive cost. This can be achieved only through effective partnership between R & D institution, academia and industry.



India has many languages, can we make use of this diversity to our advantage by using different languages as a cryptographic tool. Language is a form of encryption. If you do not understand the language that I am speaking in, it will all look gibberish to you. India has many languages. Can we make use the combination of qualities of some of our language to develop new cryptos ?

The technology of encryption and decryption is the challenge for the scientists with a given computational facility for evolving technological options in today?s communication systems like cell phones, networks, internet and also the Servers, desktops and handheld devices. Hence the experts who have assembled in the conference have to be unique people with unique mind to evolve encryption and decryption algorithms for the complex configuration with minimum computational facility and generate maximum knowledge products to maintain highest level of secrecy with our core competence.

All the Cryptographic Algorithms that the majority of the Indian users have been talking about have their origin outside the country. Every nation has to have their own algorithm. India has a strong tradition of having produced some of the finest Mathematicians for centuries. Why can not we develop a suite of several algorithms, conduct national level talent search and competitions just like the NIST of USA ?

Stegenography is the art of hiding information within information. Our Tamil poets and Sanskrit Scholars are well versed in this art also known as SLEDAI in Tamil. Can this conference come up with authenticated and assured mechanisms of evolving cryptos with provable security of Indian Genesis. As in the case of information technology business, India should find a pride of place in the information security world also.

The cryptographic scientists and technologists assembled here can also collect the database on the attacks encountered by many of our sites within the country. This will enable us to understand the general weakness of our defence and enable us to prepare a comprehensive and pro-active security system. Every security system has a shelf life. Cryptographers should constantly work for upgrading the existing system to prevent intrusion by attackers.

My best wishes to the participants of INDOCRYPT 2004 for success in their mission of discovering newer crypto-algorithms for use in secure networks.

May God bless you.


Questions and Answers Session

1. There is an effort in Europe for secure Networking based on Quantum Computing. Why not such projects be initiated in India?

- Dr. Manickam, Pune University.

Ans. A Quantum computer is a device that harnesses physical phenomenon unique to quantum mechanics (especially quantum interference) to realize a fundamentally new mode of information processing. Encryption, however, is only one application of a quantum computer. In addition, a researcher has put together a toolbox of mathematical operations that can only be performed on a quantum computer, many of which he used in his factorization algorithm. Currently the power and capability of a quantum computer is primarily theoretical speculation; the advent of the first fully functional quantum computer will undoubtedly bring many new and exciting applications. Quantum computing is one of the areas, where India can contribute substantially. We are now working on a nano-technology mission which can make realizable quantum computers. The Conference can debate and make suggestions on how we can bring in synergy in this crucial area.

2. What are the measures taken so far by the Indian Government in the area of Cryptographic E-voting techniques?

- Shri K.P. vidya, Madras Christian College, Chennai.

Ans. First time in the world the largest democracy has gone for a electronic voting successfully. The next stage is towards E-voting. For E-voting, issue of National ID based on multifactor authentication with e-governance grid is essential. You have to prepare yourself for providing cryptographic infrastructure for this application.

3. What kind of measures would be appropriate to prevent crimes via Internet?

- Shri R.S. Sankarasubramanian, PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore. Ans. One is legal provision. Secondly we should have trained enforcement machinery. The e-crimes are certainly traceable and detectable. The technologies are available. We need to bring certain standardization on the monitoring and tracking mechanism at multi-levels of the internet infrastructure. Certainly the cryptographers and security scientists have to imagine what sort of crime can occur innovatively by the system and come out with suitable application for helping the legal and enforcement authorities. You should work on simulation of crimes.

4. I believe inter institutional collaboration helps a lot in progress of Cryptology in India (being a late entrant). What is your comment?

- Shri Malapati Raja Sekhar, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata.

Ans. This Conference is organized for promoting such inter-institutional collaboration. This can be discussed in the final discussion planned as part of this Conference.

5. What is the advantage of a scientist assuming presidentship?>/b>

-Shri R. Vijayasarathy, SETS, Chennai.

Ans. I have a mission of transforming India into a developed nation by 2020. I am working to market this concept.

6. Does the Government think that Cryptology is a very important area and what would be the support for promoting this area?

- Prof R Balasubramanian, Director, The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai.

Ans.Government is aware of the importance of this area. This Conference can debate on the importance and make appropriate recommendation. If any action is required by the Government they will definitely do.

7. Every country has its own native knowledge base and assets which needs protection when the world transits to a knowledge society. What is your message to the Global Cryptographic community in this context?

- Shri Anne Canteaut, INRIA, France.

Ans. When I look at you I am reminded of Pondicherry. Here some people know both Tamil and French. If they use the combination of these two languages, I am sure it will be very difficult to decrypt. Native language is one of the big source for cryptographers. Each country can promote encryption through their native language. India is blessed with multiple languages which are naturally amenable as an encryption tool.

8. Does the President believe that in the immediate future the quantum of research outputs in Cryptology and Information Security from Corporate R & D and Academia overtake research work done in strategic Institutions traditionally?

- Dr. Kapali Viswanathan, SETS, Chennai.

Ans. I have always found that collaborative national teams produce remarkable results under time pressure compared to traditional institutions. Any thing you take in a mission mode with a clear objective will definitely yield 100% success. This has been amply demonstrated in our country.

9. Adopting the fruits of civilian R & D in Cryptology for strategic applications, what are your views?

- Dr. M.S. Vijaraghavan, SETS, Chennai.

Ans. The best of things must be available for strategic applications. We must always adopt innovative ideas wherever it comes from.

10. In India, for the public domain (or) commercial domain we do not have Cryptographic standards like the NIST while for Defence, we have Cipher Policy Committee which formulates the standards. May we have your views?

- Dr. Chakravarty, Former Direcdtor, SAG, DRDO.

Ans. Time has come for having an institutional frame work for the formulation of standards.



1. Sir, if for one minute you were to take off the President?s cap and think as a common citizen of India due you think that the amount of money spent by India on nuclear and atomic resources is justified, considering the common man?s plight today? - Abhinav Katoch, Class-10 Mount Carmel School, Palampur

Ans: The defence and development have to go together. When many of our neighbours are in the possession of nuclear weapons, we cannot be keeping quite. However, we have a doctrine of ?No First Use?. Also we are spending less than 3% of our GDP towards our defence. This is relatively very low compared to the expenditure made by many countries.

2. How can we develop critical observation power to become a great scientist? Shashank, DAV Public School

Ans: Children have to be inquisitive and ask the question why and how. You should not be satisfied unless you understand clearly. If you constantly do this in your day to day activities you will definitely become a great scientist.

3. How can science and technology wipe out poverty and make India a power nation?

-Shammi Dhiman, Govt Sr Sec School Chachian

Our first green revolution made the country self sufficient in food through scientific application. Similarly, the space programme is able to reach the message to the villagers through our satellite. It can predict monsoon and also give data on land resources. ICT provides communication to any part of the country. All these put together, has to be applied for removing poverty of the nation.

4. Sir, scientists, doctors and engineers are migrating to other countries for better prospects? What steps you suggest to stop the brain drain in India? - Anuba Pandit, SD Chand Sr Sec School Ghuggar

Our universities generate 3 million graduates every year and the engineers doctors and scientists are over 4 lakhs. Among this four lakhs professionals if a few migrate, we are not going to be in difficulty. In a way their connectivity both family and the institution can enrich our knowledge base.

5. As a member of a middle class family, how did you overcome so many obstacles and hardships and remained firmly determined? - Neeraj Sharma, Crescent Public Sr Sec School

Problems are there for every one. We have to overcome by sheer determination. Problem should not become our masters. We should become the master of the situation and succeed.

6. It is said that Nuclear weapons is a security shield. Can?t we say that Gandhi and Nehru?s panchsheel can be our security shield and we can find solutions to our problems? -Nirmala Devi, Govt Senior Sec School

That was alright during our freedom struggle. Now we have to protect our hard earned freedom in an environment of many of our neighbours possessing nuclear weapons. We have to be strong and protect ourselves. There is no short cut to our defence.

7. How a man can attain success in life and become great? - Nutan Rana, Govt Senior Sec. School, Pathiar

I have already answered this question today.

8. What a person should do after facing big failures, as you faced like premature death of hovercraft and earlier failures of rocket systems? - Tanuja Thakur, Bharatiya Vidya Peeth High Scl

You should not get disheartened by failures. In fact you learn many things through failures which you cannot learn from successes. Continue work you will succeed.

9. How will you differentiate the working of a person as a scientist in a laboratory and now in President?s office.? - Abhinav Acharya, Bhinwa Public High School, Baijnath

Even now I have a Ph.d Student working with me. We are working together to find a solution to the problem of mentally challenged children.

10. What could be our best role to make India most powerful nation in the world? - Anurag Sharma, Govt Senior Sec School, Prour

Work hard and excel in your chosen field.




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