AUCloud Symmetric Keys

The Origins of Symmetric Key Cryptography 

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, ensuring the security and integrity of sensitive information has become paramount. From financial transactions to personal communications, the need to protect data from unauthorised access has led to the development of various cryptographic techniques. One such method is the use of symmetric keys, a powerful tool in safeguarding data with shared secrets. 

Symmetric key cryptography, also known as secret key cryptography, employs a single key for both encryption and decryption processes. This means that the same secret key is used by both the sender and the recipient to encrypt and decrypt the data. The key is kept confidential between the authorised parties involved in the communication, hence the term “shared secret.” 

The concept of symmetric key cryptography dates back to ancient times, where people would use secret codes to conceal their messages. However, with the advent of computers and the need for secure electronic communication, symmetric key algorithms have become more sophisticated and efficient. 

The fundamental principle behind symmetric key cryptography is the application of mathematical functions to transform plaintext (the original message) into ciphertext (the encrypted message) and vice versa. The strength and security of symmetric key algorithms lie in the complexity of these mathematical operations, making it computationally infeasible for unauthorised entities to decrypt the message without knowledge of the secret key. 

Symmetric Key Algorithms  

One of the most widely used symmetric key algorithms is the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which has become the de facto standard for encrypting sensitive data. AES employs various key sizes (128, 192, and 256 bits) to provide different levels of security. It operates on blocks of data and employs a series of substitution, permutation, and mixing operations to achieve a high degree of confidentiality. 

Another popular symmetric key algorithm is the Data Encryption Standard (DES), which served as the foundation for modern symmetric key cryptography. However, due to advances in computing power, DES is considered relatively weak by today’s standards. As a result, it has been largely replaced by AES. 

Symmetric key algorithms offer several advantages that make them suitable for a wide range of applications. Firstly, they are computationally efficient, enabling rapid encryption and decryption of large volumes of data. This efficiency is especially crucial in scenarios where real-time communication or processing is required. 

Secondly, symmetric key algorithms are relatively straightforward to implement, making them accessible to developers and organisations. They require less computational resources compared to their asymmetric counterparts, which involve complex mathematical operations such as modular exponentiation and factorisation. 

Challenges with Traditional Symmetric Key Cryptography 

However, symmetric key cryptography also faces certain challenges. The primary concern is the secure distribution of the secret key between the communicating parties. As both the sender and recipient require the same key, it becomes crucial to establish a secure channel for sharing the key, free from interception or tampering. 

Key management is an essential aspect of symmetric key cryptography. Techniques such as key exchange protocols, secure key distribution, and key derivation functions help ensure the secure sharing and storage of keys. Additionally, symmetric key algorithms require regular key updates or rekeying to maintain security over time. 

Symmetric key cryptography is often used in combination with other cryptographic techniques to achieve a comprehensive security framework. For instance, symmetric keys are commonly used to encrypt the actual data in a communication channel, while asymmetric keys are employed for key exchange and digital signatures, providing authentication and integrity. 

How AUCloud is delivering innovation to Symmetric Key Cryptography?  

AUCloud has partnered with Arqit, a company that focuses on providing quantum computing resistant encryption solutions to secure data in various applications in transit and at rest. In the context of symmetric keys, Arqit employs a unique approach known as QuantumCloud™ to enhance the security of symmetric key distribution. 

Symmetric key encryption involves using the same key for both the encryption and decryption processes. However, the physical and digital challenge lies in securely distributing these symmetric keys to the intended recipients. Historically this has either being done through the use of human labour or digitally using asymmetric cryptography. Asymmetric cryptography is now under threat from the emergence of Quantum computers. 

Arqit’s implementation of symmetric key agreement with QuantumCloud™ involves generating and distributing symmetric key agreement using a light-weight software agent, which is small enough to run on any device and creates computationally secure zero trust encryption keys delivered through quantum key exchange protocols. These protocols establish a secure communication channel between the sender and the receiver, allowing them to exchange symmetric keys without the risk of interception or eavesdropping. The keys work within existing standardised symmetric encryption algorithms like AES 256 and the Arqit software can be implemented easily as a mind-life upgrade without requiring costly transformation. By integrating quantum technologies into symmetric key agreement, Arqit aims to provide a highly secure and scalable solution for protecting sensitive data. This approach combines the efficiency of symmetric encryption with the provable security offered by quantum-resistant key agreement, ensuring that the keys used for encryption remain secure from potential attacks. 

Discover the best Symmetric Key Offering in Australia with Fortinet, Arqit and AUCloud  

Fortinet, Arqit and AUCloud have partnered to deliver an industry-leading security solution by integrating FortiGate Next-Generation Firewalls with the Symmetric Key Agreement Software operating from AUCloud’s sovereign cloud platform. The combined solution provides quantum-safe symmetric keys that can be created and rotated on-demand to encrypt and protect sensitive data between point-to-point VPN links. It also delivers enhanced security against today’s human-in-the-middle attacks and the future quantum threat, reducing the administrative burden and inefficiencies of current symmetric encryption solutions.

Contact us on 1800 282 568 or to find out more.