Encryption for everyone, claims Fraunhofer research institute
Responding from a perceived demand from industry and society at large for practicable encryption solutions, researchers from the German Fraunhofer Institute have launched an open initiative intended to make end to end encryption more widely available.
The team, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology (SIT), has developed a public encryption concept in which software automatically installs cryptographic keys in the right places on a computer. The researchers are also developing an infrastructure that will be available to all and which is compatible with existing encryption services.
The software based solution takes over what SIT said is the difficult task of allocating keys by recognising which applications – different e-mail programs, for example – can use cryptography and allocating the right key to each one automatically. The software also generates cryptographic keys that can be used to encrypt e-mails or files.
In the approach – called Volksverschlüsselung – public keys can be obtained from a central infrastructure. "It works like a phone book," says project manager Michael Herfert. "Anyone can look up and download public keys. The central infrastructure also ensures that the keys actually belong to the person requesting them and helps prevent identity fraud."
In order for many people to use the system, it would need to be handle several million keys and the current plan is to create an infrastructure on a high security server at the Fraunhofer Institute.
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