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Security research co-authored by HP Labs’ Liqun Chen stands the 'Test-of-Time’


Liqun.jpgA landmark research paper co-authored by Liqun Chen of HP Labs this week received the prestigious ‘Test-of-Time’ award at the ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS). ACM CCS is the annual conference of the Special Interest Group on Security, Audit and Control (SIGSAC) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest scientific and educational computing society.


The paper, which Chen wrote with co-authors Ernie Brickell of Intel and Jan Camenisch of IBM was presented at the 2004 ACM CCS Conference, introduced the concept of Direct Anonymous Attestation, which enables trusted computers to be securely linked together without compromising user privacy.


“We created an algorithm that sits on a security chip called the Trusted Platform Module,” explains Chen, a senior research scientist in HP’s Security and Cloud Lab in Bristol, UK. “The chip certifies that a remote computer is configured in the way that it claims to be. Direct Anonymous Attestation (DAA) allows that process to be done without having to reveal identifying information about that specific computer – so people can talk with each other with both trust and privacy.”


The paper had a significant impact and, to date, has received almost 700 citations in other scientific works. The DAA algorithm is implemented and used by the security chips of hundreds of millions of PCs, laptops, and smartphones. The algorithm has also been included in an International Standard developed by ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) and IEC (the International Electrotechnical Commission).


“10 years is a really tough metric to be considered over,” notes Simon Shiu, Senior Research Manager at HP Labs, “but this was groundbreaking work, so the recognition for Liqun and her colleagues is very well deserved.”


The DAA algorithm introduced in their paper was designed in response to a call from the Trusted Computing Group, an industry consortium concerned with issues in security, to improve the Trusted Platform Module chip. The chip already featured a number of crypto-algorithms, all based on existing well-developed standards, Chen recalls. “What we created was specifically built for the module because nothing like it existed that could do the job we needed it to do. We tried a lot of different approaches before we found one that satisfied the Trusted Computer Group’s very strict requirements.”


Ten years on, Chen remains focused on new security solutions for computer hardware, networks, and internet services. She continues to collaborate with Camenisch and Brickell, and with many other colleagues from around the world.


She also continues, with others, to develop different versions of the DAA algorithm in order to meet new requirements from the Trusted Computing Group for the next generation of the Trusted Platform Module.


She is delighted to see her, and her collaborators', efforts so widely adopted. “In our research, we need to design a lot of crypto-algorithms,” she says, “but we don’t expect that they will necessarily be used in the real world – so every time an algorithm is used is special.”



A fuller version of the paper, including the security proofs, can be found here.


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Many congratulations Li!

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