Top secret! Decrypting the world

Imagine a society without secrets. A kind of space-time where everything and everyone would be known. Possible? Desirable? The exhibition ’Top secret! Decrypting the world’, presented in collaboration with UCL at the Mundaneum in Mons, addresses these questions.

’Top secret!’ is a stroll through a magical place, a precursor to the Internet and Wikipedia: the Mundaneum. ’Top secret!’ isn’t only a deep incursion into the history of cryptography, it’s a public exhibition that addresses Internet privacy, immerses the visitor into the depths of the dark net, and highlights Belgium’s essential contributions: cryptographic methods, electronic voting, etc.

The exhibition is also the opportunity to glimpse the research undertaken at UCL through the activity of the UCL Crypto Group.

UCL is a pioneer in cryptography research , mainly through the UCL Crypto Group, created by Jean-Jacques Quisquater , a UCL professor emeritus and internationally renowned cryptographer (named an International Association for Cryptologic Research fellow, the field’s highest honour, for major advances in cryptography and data protection). Today, Professors Olivier Pereira and François-Xavier Standaert coordinate this research unit of 20 scientists.

What exactly is cryptography? The science of secrecy. Or the set of techniques for encoding information in a way that it can be authenticated and access to it controlled. In plain language, designing mechanisms (using math) that enable people who don’t trust each other to work together. Examples’ Electronic voting and Internet communications.

The UCL Crypto Group brings together researchers in all fields of modern cryptography: mathematics, electronics, IT. It’s involved in a dozen projects and international networks and has published over 70 research articles over the past five years in fields such as physical protection of objects , cryptography for the Internet of things , electronic voting , privacy protocols , communications anonymity (via the Tor network, for example), etc.

More broadly, the UCL Crypto Group is renowned internationally for its discoveries in the fields of chip card technology, voting systems and digital cinema security. Through such discoveries, today we have various encryption mechanisms , many well-established and some renowned for 30 years, that guarantee the security of communications against anyone who might be listening. Since the Snowden revelations, they’ve been used more systematically and led to still further advances.

The UCL Crypto Group in figures : 20 UCL researchers specialised in microelectronics, telecommunications, information science and mathematics; 400 international research publications since its creation and 30 collaborations with industrial partners and data protection companies. : www.uclouvain.be/crypto.

UCL Crypto Group experts (press):
Olivier Pereira, Co-coordinator, UCL Crypto Group, 010 47 91 63 or GSM on request, olivier.pereira [at] uclouvain (p) be (first contact by email is encouraged);
François-Xavier Standaert, Co-coordinator, UCL Crypto Group, fstandae [at] uclouvain (p) be ;
Edouard Cuvelier, UCL Research Assistant, 010 47 81 37, edouard.cuvelier [at] uclouvain (p) be ;
François Koeune, UCL Visiting Associate Professor, 010 47 81 41, francois.koeune [at] uclouvain (p) be , expertise in cryptography, blockchain, chip cards;
Thomas Peters, UCL Research Associate, 010 47 81 07, thomas.peters [at] uclouvain (p) be , expertise in security testing, privacy protocols, electronic voting;
Florentin Rochet, UCL Research Assistant, 010 47 81 40, florentin.rochet [at] uclouvain (p) be , expertise in Tor, anonymity, authentication


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