Lancashire researchers fill encryption security holes

Researchers at Lancaster University in the UK have turned to human coupling to fill security holes in data encryption, which is sadly less tabloid than it sounds.

According to the SD Times, while the researchers were working to map and understand how the human heart and lungs coordinate rhythms by passing information to one another, researchers created software models to simulate the natural communication.

Then they twigged that the same modelling could be applied to encryption.

Their system is based on the coupling functions that allow the heart and lungs to exist independently while operating in sync. Tomislav Stankovski, Peter McClintock and Aneta Stefanovska of the Lancaster University physics department writing in the American Physical Society’s journal, Physical Review X. have filed a patent entitled “Encoding Data Using Dynamic System Coupling,” along with another Lancaster University physics professor Robert Young.

The have two ends of encryption, the sender and the receiver (or server), are like the heart and lungs. The information is encrypted at various times on both ends and decrypted using coupling functions, so the data only makes sense in the context of both the sender and receiver. According to the researchers, the method is also unaffected by external fluctuations or “noise” that could interrupt the data streams.

The coupling functions transmit and receive multiple encrypted signals simultaneously, creating an unlimited number of possibilities for the shared encryption key and making it virtually impossible to decrypt using traditional methods.

Stankovski said that inspired by the time-varying nature of the cardio-respiratory coupling functions recently discovered in humans, he proposed a new encryption scheme that is highly resistant to conventional methods of attack.