Australia has been experiencing a significant increase in cyber attacks on its critical infrastructure, including ports, energy grids, and water supplies. Over the past year alone, there have been 143 reported cyber attacks, compared to 95 incidents the previous year. This growing threat has prompted the Federal Minister for Cyber Security, Clare O’Neil, to take action by enhancing the cybersecurity measures for 168 critical infrastructure assets, nearly double the number of assets previously considered of national significance.

In response to the vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure systems, a groundbreaking mathematical breakthrough has paved the way for a revolutionary approach to cybersecurity. Known as “ineffable cryptography,” this technology allows the distribution of system access authority in a secure and invisible manner across a network, eliminating any weak links that hackers can exploit. The concept and implementation of ineffable cryptography are explained in a joint study conducted by Tide and RMIT mathematicians.

The development of ineffable cryptography was made possible through a collaborative effort between experts in various fields, including mathematics, cryptography, computing, technology, and business. The lead author of the study, Dr. Joanne Hall from RMIT’s School of Science, highlighted the importance of this multi-disciplinary collaboration in creating a cutting-edge solution that anticipates future cybersecurity standards.

The innovative technology of ineffable cryptography has been incorporated into a prototype access control system called KeyleSSH, specifically designed for managing critical infrastructure. Several companies have participated in successful tests of this system, demonstrating its effectiveness in securing access without relying on traditional password-based approaches. KeyleSSH’s approach ensures that data and devices can be locked with keys that no individual holds, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access.

The core principle of ineffable cryptography lies in its ability to generate and operate keys across a decentralized network of servers. Each server holds only a portion of a key, ensuring that no single entity has access to the full key or understanding of the entire key generation process. By distributing this process invisibly across the network, hackers seeking the full keys will find them impossible to obtain. This distributed approach ensures there is no single point of failure or compromise, resulting in keys that cannot be lost, stolen, or misused.

While cybersecurity for critical infrastructure is a primary focus, the applications enabled by ineffable cryptography extend far beyond that domain. This revolutionary technology has the potential to secure identities, safeguard health information, protect financial systems, and ensure privacy in AI applications. The breadth of its applications makes ineffable cryptography a game-changer in the field of cybersecurity.

RMIT has been at the forefront of the collaboration with Tide, working together for three years to validate the claims made by ineffable cryptography. The collaboration involved RMIT’s Chief Information Security Officer, top mathematicians, and cybersecurity experts from the School of Science and the Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation. Furthermore, RMIT’s AWS Cloud Supercomputing Hub (RACE) and Cloud Innovation Centre provided the necessary resources to test the technology’s capabilities in real-world scenarios.

One of the notable outcomes of the collaboration is the KeyleSSH project, which focused on integrating the Tide technology with SSH (Secure Shell), a method for remote infrastructure management. The project involved cybersecurity students supported by RMIT’s Cloud Innovation Centre and RACE, working closely with industry partners to test the efficacy of ineffable cryptography. By successfully integrating the technology into SSH, the KeyleSSH project demonstrated the enhanced security benefits of this groundbreaking approach.

The solution has garnered enthusiasm from managed service providers involved in the trial, including Smart Building Services (SBS) Digital, an Australian company specializing in smart metering systems. Jonathan Spinks, the Chief Technology Officer of SBS Digital, emphasized the critical importance of ensuring access controls in vital infrastructure platforms are tamper-resistant. By integrating ineffable cryptography, SBS Digital’s Netstream utility platform can effectively prevent unauthorized access attempts, safeguarding key infrastructure from potential threats.

Ineffable cryptography represents a significant breakthrough in cybersecurity, offering a decentralized, invisible, and secure approach to protecting critical infrastructure systems. As Australia continues to face a growing number of cyber threats, the incorporation of this revolutionary technology provides a robust defense against hackers and safeguards national security. Beyond critical infrastructure, ineffable cryptography has the potential to transform cybersecurity in various domains, ensuring privacy, protecting identities, and bolstering financial systems. The collaborative efforts of researchers, mathematicians, and cybersecurity experts have validated the conceptual promise of ineffable cryptography and demonstrated its practical applications in real-world scenarios. With the promising results from the KeyleSSH project and the enthusiastic response from industry partners, the future of ineffable cryptography looks bright in securing critical infrastructure and beyond.


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