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In Plain Text: HSE MIEM Doctoral Student Wins a RusCrypto Competition

In Plain Text: HSE MIEM Doctoral Student Wins a RusCrypto Competition

© Ruscrypto.ru

At the 2021 RusCrypto Competition, HSE PhD student Anastasia Malashina (MIEM) won the student report category by the unanimous decision of the competition committee, which included the directors of the RusCrypto-2021 Association, members of the programme committee, and experts in the field of computer security. Anastasia spoke with HSE News Service about her presentation.

Anastasia Malashina’s study, ‘An Algorithm for Recovering Individual Parts of Text Messages from Information about Possible Variants of its Signs’ grew out of her research work, which she began during her undergraduate studies in Cyber Security under the supervision of Professor Alexey Los. After graduation, she entered the Doctoral School of Engineering Science where she specializes in Cyber Security and continues to work with her supervisor.

Anastasia Malashina, PhD student, Doctoral School of Engineering Science, MIEM, HSE University

Photo courtesy of Anastasia Malashina

My research touches upon questions of classical cryptography little known in wide circles. I study the possibility of keyless recovery of individual parts of messages encrypted with a stream cipher.

Keyless recovery means that the plaintext is recovered from the encrypted text using certain auxiliary information about this text. In this case, the definition of the encryption key is not required.

Typically, messages are transmitted over the communication channel in encrypted form. If a stream cipher is used with the correct key and no side channel leaks occur, it is often impossible to recover the original message without knowing the key. But in practice, a number of situations are often possible when information about the variants of some symbols of the original message becomes known. For example, in cases of incorrect selection of the key sequence, there can be leakage through side communication channels, or there may be repeated use of the same encryption key for different texts. In this case, it is possible to build an algorithm that allows you to restore individual segments of the message text.

I am researching an algorithm for recovering individual segments of the text, its efficiency and laboriousness for various initial parameters, and the possibility of applying it in practice.

The results of the study of this method can be used to assess the security of certain information systems. It is of particular value due to the need to develop methods of analysis and synthesis of modern algorithms for protecting information

The RusCrypto Conference, which was held March 23–26, is the central event of the year in the field of cryptography. The event gives students and graduate students the opportunity to present their work to a court of top professional information security specialists. Presentations are selected by a competition jury, which includes the directors of the RusCrypto Association and technical experts from companies participating in the association. I was named the winner of this year’s report competition, which was a big surprise for me.

I was given the opportunity to present my report at the panel, ‘Cryptography and Cryptanalysis’, and all expenses (the registration fee, accommodation, and meals) for me as the winner were covered by the organizers.

I did not specifically prepare for the competition, I simply presented all the results of my research, which I obtained over the past year and a half of my doctoral studies, in the form of a single work.

A huge plus for me was that the organizers did not set a word limit for the text of the report, as is often the case in such competitions. Therefore, I was not limited to any formal framework and was able to outline all aspects and results of my work.

I am not sure that in the future my field of activity will be limited only to the scientific sphere, but in any case, I plan to continue my academic work — teaching and research. Now at MIEM I am in charge of a third-year student project that deals with the information properties of language. The project has already won the cyber security section at the Annual Interuniversity Scientific and Technical Conference for Students, Postgraduates, and Young Specialists named after E.V. Armensky.

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