"It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

– Yogi Berra 
[borrowed from ECC conference presenter,Jim Dworkin]

Although no one would claim to be clairvoyant, the more than 100 attendees at the 2nd Annual Certicom ECC Conference, agreed that ECC is the cryptography of today and the future. During the three-day conference held in October, the finest minds in cryptography and security representing Australia, Canada, Europe, and the United States gathered in Toronto to discuss the many current and future applications and standards employing ECC.

Certicom ECC Visionary Award winner, Dr. Gerhard Frey, Chair for Number Theory at the Institute for Experimental Mathematics of the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, best summed up the value of ECC with the following: "Without doubt it is important to communicate in a secure and inexpensive way by using open networks and to be able to sign documents, authenticate persons and machines with simple protocols and clear, easy-to-follow implementation rules."

Under the conference theme of, "Smallest, Fastest, Strongest", Dr. Scott Vanstone, founder and EVP strategic technology at Certicom, set the stage by providing an overview of where ECC is being deployed. His talk was supported throughout the conference by the guest speakers who gave specifics about their use of ECC. Keynote speaker, David Maher, EVP and CTO of Intertrust, talked about digital rights management (DRM) applications, illustrating how DRM has evolved from being a roadblock to an enabler. He discussed the different layers of intellectual property and made the point that as DRM systems become more distributed and dynamic, there is a greater need for an ECC public-key system. XM Satellite Radio's senior chief engineer, Richard Michalski, gave an overview of security requirements for conditional access systems before elaborating on where and how it is used in the XM Satellite Radio system.

ECC on the move with mobile applications Herb Little, an early ECC adopter at Research In Motion, discussed the use of SPEKE over elliptic curves in password- based key establishment while Bill O'Brien of Bell Canada used a series of case studies to illustrate how Bell is using ECC to protect mobile computing and Ravi Belwarl of Nokia discussed the use of cryptography in Nokia's mobile devices. Philippe Richard of Avanza Technologies discussed how his company uses public keys to protect email identify at the moment the information is created. Dr. Peter Landrock of Cryptomathic showed how ECC could be used in electronic voting, from the registration and voting stages through to the final counting of votes.

ECC Hardwired

Hardware specialist, Brett Thompson of Eracom Technologies, explored the use of ECC in future electronic payment systems. Dr. Nicko van Someren, founder of nCipher, proved the value of ECC's security and scalability in his description of hardware security modules in large enterprises. Freescale's Jim Dworkin described the advantages of using ECC in hardware to establish trust and the importance of having this trust in the new reality of converged communications.

SPYRUS' chief scientist, Robert Jueneman, examined ECC from the perspective of protecting government applications, providing suggestions for building on the National Security Agency's Suite B recommendations for securing information and mitigating side channel attacks. Presentations by industry watchers Ralph Poore and Jeff Stapleton of Innove examined the how and why of transitioning to stronger cryptography systems.