AWS Security Profile: Matthew Campagna, Senior Principal, Security Engineering, AWS Cryptography

In the AWS Security Profile series, we interview Amazon Web Services (AWS) thought leaders who help keep our customers safe and secure. This interview features Matt Campagna, Senior Principal, Security Engineering, AWS Cryptography, and re:Inforce 2023 session speaker, who shares thoughts on data protection, cloud security, post-quantum cryptography, and more. Matthew was first profiled on the AWS Security Blog in 2019. This is part 1 of 3 in a series of interviews with our AWS Cryptography team.

What do you do in your current role and how long have you been at AWS?

I started at Amazon in 2013 as the first cryptographer at AWS. Today, my focus is on the cryptographic security of our customers’ data. I work across AWS to make sure that our cryptographic engineering meets our most sensitive customer needs. I lead our migration to quantum-resistant cryptography, and help make privacy-preserving cryptography techniques part of our security model.

How did you get started in the data protection and cryptography space? What about it piqued your interest?

I first learned about public-key cryptography (for example, RSA) during a math lesson about group theory. I found the mathematics intriguing and the idea of sending secret messages using only a public value astounding. My undergraduate and graduate education focused on group theory, and I started my career at the National Security Agency (NSA) designing and analyzing cryptologics. But what interests me most about cryptography is its ability to enable business by reducing risks. I look at cryptography as a financial instrument that affords new business cases, like e-commerce, digital currency, and secure collaboration. What enables Amazon to deliver for our customers is rooted in cryptography; our business exists because cryptography enables trust and confidentiality across the internet. I find this the most intriguing aspect of cryptography.

AWS has invested in the migration to post-quantum cryptography by contributing to post-quantum key agreement and post-quantum signature schemes to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and authenticity of customer data. What should customers do to prepare for post-quantum cryptography?

Our focus at AWS is to help ensure that customers can migrate to post-quantum cryptography as fast as prudently possible. This work started with inventorying our dependencies on algorithms that aren’t known to be quantum-resistant, like integer-factorization-based cryptography, and discrete-log-based cryptography, like ECC. Customers can rely on AWS to assist with transitioning to post-quantum cryptography for their cloud computing needs.

We recommend customers begin inventorying their dependencies on algorithms that aren’t quantum-resistant, and consider developing a migration plan, to understand if they can migrate directly to new post-quantum algorithms or if they should re-architect them. For the systems that are provided by a technology provider, customers should ask what their strategy is for post-quantum cryptography migration.

AWS offers post-quantum TLS endpoints in some security services. Can you tell us about these endpoints and how customers can use them?

Our open source TLS implementation, s2n-TLS, includes post-quantum hybrid key exchange (PQHKEX) in its mainline. It’s deployed everywhere that s2n is deployed. AWS Key Management Service, AWS Secrets Manager, and AWS Certificate Manager have enabled PQHKEX cipher suites in our commercial AWS Regions. Today customers can use the AWS SDK for Java 2.0 to enable PQHKEX on their connection to AWS, and on the services that also have it enabled, they will negotiate a post-quantum key exchange method. As we enable these cipher suites on additional services, customers will also be able to connect to these services using PQHKEX.

You are a frequent contributor to the Amazon Science Blog. What were some of your recent posts about?

In 2022, we published a post on preparing for post-quantum cryptography, which provides general information on the broader industry development and deployment of post-quantum cryptography. The post links to a number of additional resources to help customers understand post-quantum cryptography. The AWS Post-Quantum Cryptography page and the Science Blog are great places to start learning about post-quantum cryptography.

We also published a post highlighting the security of post-quantum hybrid key exchange. Amazon believes in evidencing the cryptographic security of the solutions that we vend. We are actively participating in cryptographic research to validate the security that we provide in our services and tools.

What’s been the most dramatic change you’ve seen in the data protection and post-quantum cryptography landscape since we talked to you in 2019?

Since 2019, there have been two significant advances in the development of post-quantum cryptography.

First, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced their selection of PQC algorithms for standardization. NIST expects to finish the standardization of a post-quantum key encapsulation mechanism (Kyber) and digital signature scheme (Dilithium) by 2024 as part of the Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS). NIST will also work on standardization of two additional signature standards (FALCON and SPHINCS+), and continue to consider future standardization of the key encapsulation mechanisms BIKE, HQC, and Classical McEliece.

Second, the NSA announced their Commercial National Security Algorithm (CNSA) Suite 2.0, which includes their timelines for National Security Systems (NSS) to migrate to post-quantum algorithms. The NSA will begin preferring post-quantum solutions in 2025 and expect that systems will have completed migration by 2033. Although this timeline might seem far away, it’s an aggressive strategy. Experience shows that it can take 20 years to develop and deploy new high-assurance cryptographic algorithms. If technology providers are not already planning to migrate their systems and services, they will be challenged to meet this timeline.

What makes cryptography exciting to you?

Cryptography is a dynamic area of research. In addition to the business applications, I enjoy the mathematics of cryptography. The state-of-the-art is constantly progressing in terms of new capabilities that cryptography can enable, and the potential risks to existing cryptographic primitives. This plays out in the public sphere of cryptographic research across the globe. These advancements are made public and are accessible for companies like AWS to innovate on behalf of our customers, and protect our systems in advance of the development of new challenges to our existing crypto algorithms. This is happening now as we monitor the advancements of quantum computing against our ability to define and deploy new high-assurance quantum-resistant algorithms. For me, it doesn’t get more exciting than this.

Where do you see the cryptography and post-quantum cryptography space heading to in the future?

While NIST transitions from their selection process to standardization, the broader cryptographic community will be more focused on validating the cryptographic assurances of these proposed schemes for standardization. This is a critical part of the process. I’m optimistic that we will enter 2025 with new cryptographic standards to deploy.

There is a lot of additional cryptographic research and engineering ahead of us. Applying these new primitives to the cryptographic applications that use classical asymmetric schemes still needs to be done. Some of this work is happening in parallel, like in the IETF TLS working group, and in the ETSI Quantum-Safe Cryptography Technical Committee. The next five years should see the adoption of PQHKEX in protocols like TLS, SSH, and IKEv2 and certification of new FIPS hardware security modules (HSMs) for establishing new post-quantum, long-lived roots of trust for code-signing and entity authentication.

I expect that the selected primitives for standardization will also be used to develop novel uses in fields like secure multi-party communication, privacy preserving machine learning, and cryptographic computing.

With AWS re:Inforce 2023 around the corner, what will your session focus on? What do you hope attendees will take away from your session?

Session DAP302 – “Post-quantum cryptography migration strategy for cloud services” is about the challenge quantum computers pose to currently used public-key cryptographic algorithms and how the industry is responding. Post-quantum cryptography (PQC) offers a solution to this challenge, providing security to help protect against quantum computer cybersecurity events. We outline current efforts in PQC standardization and migration strategies. We want our customers to leave with a better understanding of the importance of PQC and the steps required to migrate to it in a cloud environment.

Is there something you wish customers would ask you about more often?

The question I am most interested in hearing from our customers is, “when will you have a solution to my problem?” If customers have a need for a novel cryptographic solution, I’m eager to try to solve that with them.

How about outside of work, any hobbies?

My main hobbies outside of work are biking and running. I wish I was as consistent attending to my hobbies as I am to my work desk. I am happier being able to run every day for a constant speed and distance as opposed to running faster or further tomorrow or next week. Last year I was fortunate enough to do the Cycle Oregon ride. I had registered for it twice before without being able to find the time to do it.

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Roger Park

Roger is a Senior Security Content Specialist at AWS Security focusing on data protection. He has worked in cybersecurity for almost ten years as a writer and content producer. In his spare time, he enjoys trying new cuisines, gardening, and collecting records.

Matthew Campagna

Matthew is a Sr. Principal Engineer for Amazon Web Services’s Cryptography Group. He manages the design and review of cryptographic solutions across AWS. He is an affiliate of Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, a member of the ETSI Security Algorithms Group Experts (SAGE), and ETSI TC CYBER’s Quantum Safe Cryptography group. Previously, Matthew led the Certicom Research group at BlackBerry managing cryptographic research, standards, and IP, and participated in various standards organizations, including ANSI, ZigBee, SECG, ETSI’s SAGE, and the 3GPP-SA3 working group. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from Wesleyan University in group theory, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Fordham University.

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