Public-key cryptography is a fundamental pillar of cybersecurity. The security of public-key cryptosystems is based on the hardness of solving hard mathematical problems. From a practical point of view, the hard problems mostly considered in practice are the problem of factoring integers (FACT) and the discrete logarithm problem (DLOG) over finite fields or elliptic curves. In the classical setting, it is believed that these problems are indeed computationally hard, i.e. no polynomial-time algorithm exists for solving these problems. This basic assumption is no longer valid in a quantum setting. Shor's algorithm from the 90's allows to solve (FACT) and (DLOG) in polynomial-time on a quantum computer. This milestone result motivated the design of new public-key cryptosystems which are secure in the classical and quantum setting. This area of cryptography is called post-quantum cryptography or quantum-resistant cryptography.
The effort to develop quantum-resistant techniques is now intensifying. NIST, which has the authority to establish US standards, released in January 2016 a call for proposals to standardize some quantum-resistant cryptosystems within 2020. With historical perspective, it seems likely that the quantum-resistant standards derived from this process will be widely endorsed around the world. This will induce an intense activity in quantum-resistant cryptography in the next years from both from an academic and industrial point of view.
This is a game-changer for public-key cryptography that will impact the cybersecurity market in a near future (for example, see [Cyber17]). The RISQ project is a massive effort at the French level to embrace the quantum-safe revolution. The ambition of RISQ is to prepare the french security industry to the upcoming shift of classical cryptography to quantum-safe cryptography.
The project gather a large consortium of industrial, institutional, and academic partners:
The RISQ project is certainly the biggest industrial project ever organized in quantum-safe cryptography. RISQ is one of few projects accepted in the call Grands Défis du Numérique which is managed by BPI France, and will be funded thanks to the so-called Plan d'Investissements d'Avenir.
The RISQ project is a natural continuation of PolSys commitment to the industrial transfert of quantum-safe cryptography. RISQ is a large scale version of the HFEBoost project; which demonstrated the potential of quantum-safe cryptography.
PolSys activavely participated to shape the RISQ project. PolSys is now a member of the strategic board of RISQ, and is leading the task of designing and analyzing quantum-safe algorithms. In particular, a first milestone of this task is to prepare submissions to NIST's quantum-safe standardisation process.