Microsoft Research India to work on cryptography

Microsoft taps India's leading academic institutions for students with complex mathematical skills

Microsoft Research announced Tuesday that it is setting up a group to do research in cryptography at its lab in Bangalore, India.

Cryptography is a key area of research for Microsoft Research because of its impact in areas such as basic computer security, media rights, and management, said Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research.

The cryptography group at the Redmond, Washington, lab of Microsoft Research has contributed key technologies to the Windows OS and Office suite of Microsoft, Rashid said.

Microsoft decided to set up a team in India to work on cryptography, because of the high level of complex mathematical skills available in the country, that are critical for research in cryptography, said Padmanabhan Anandan, managing director of Microsoft Research in India.

The research lab in Bangalore is one of six research labs run by Microsoft. The lab in Bangalore already does research in the areas of computing technologies for emerging markets, multilingual systems, geographical information systems (GIS), sensors, and sensor network applications, and technology that will enable software developers and system integrators to develop and modify enterprise business applications at a higher abstraction level from writing code.

Microsoft Research India will work on building new cryptographic primitive operations, such as encryption, decryption, and authentication algorithms, and will also analyze and try to break existing algorithms, said Ramarathnam Venkatesan, senior researcher in cryptography at Microsoft Research in Redmond.

Microsoft Research India will also focus on cryptography for smaller devices such as mobile phones and RFID (radio frequency identification) devices which do not have the same computational resources as, say, a PC, Venkatesan said. " We will be researching methods that don't assume a lot of computation power," Anandan added.

In cryptography, research work is typically published widely and is in the public domain, according to Venkatesan. The only way to get any credibility in cryptography is to make the algorithm or methodology public, and then everybody looks at it, and people try to break it and validate it, he added.

Microsoft Research India plans to work on cryptography with leading academic institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Anandan said. Students from these institutions may work as interns with staff of Microsoft Research India, he added.

Some of these institutions are already doing work in the area of cryptography. In the case of joint research that Microsoft may patent, the company will enter into appropriate arrangements with the academic institutions, Venkatesan said.

The lab will also collaborate with researchers on cryptography in other countries, including Israel which has a large number of experts in the area, Anandan said.

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