The SIMPLE-Crypto Association is based on a flexible model with minimum overheads. It is aimed to enable the integration and maintenance of code projects from different partners. At high level, we start funding researchers (possibly co-affiliated with other research institutes or universities) to evaluate and maintain the codes once our scientific council expressed sufficient interest and we collected sufficient sponsoring.

Yearly schedule of the association

A typical year of the SIMPLE-Crypto Association follows four main steps:

  • Yearly report The contributors of the association write a report describing yearly progresses and listing potential plans (with a tentative time budget) for the next year.
  • Sponsors' workshop Sponsors meet during an annual workshop to discuss the report and identify promising developments. The report is updated based on this feedback.
  • Scientific council The scientific council reviews the proposed developments and establishes a priority list of projects. It also makes suggestions of developers to contact. The report is updated based on this feedack.
  • Projects selection The association board approves the report which is published on the SIMPLE-Crypto website. Developers are contacted to work on the projects of the priority list by the association’s contact points (see the people tag) and open source projects are launched (e.g., via internships or other relevant means) for one year given the budget constraints.

The four main criteria driving the selection of the projects are:

  • Their scientific maturity (i.e., the existence of a theoretical background or convincing proofs-of-concept from the academic literature).
  • Their security in the worst-case evaluation setting that the association promotes.
  • Their mid/long-term relevance for emerging industrial applications.
  • Their genericity and portability on the widest possible range of devices and platforms.

Lifetime of the association’s projects

The typical lifetime of an open source project follows the following stages:

  • Development The selected projects are developed towards prototype codes with accurate documentation and test vectors. Their (e.g., physical) security is evaluated internally, by the association’s researchers. More precisely:
    • Codes are based on standard interfaces.
    • Documentation includes a tool for predicting the exact state of an implementation at any given cycle, in order to facilitate worst-case physical security evaluations.
    • Preliminary security evaluation based on the open source evaluation tools of the association ends with a report describing the best attack vectors found.
  • Public evaluation The prototype code is released under a copyleft licence together with its documentation, prediction tool and preliminary security evaluation report. A challenge is organized based on public data sets, linked to scientific conferences whenever possible. A call for contributions aiming at improving the code is open.
  • Gold sponsoring The code is used in industrial projects. The gold sponsoring enables its integration under a non-copyleft license during the membership year, while it remains available under a copyleft license for open source developments, which we denote as dual licensing. As long as a code is gold-sponsored, the detection of security flaws goes through a separate incident response process, following standard responsible disclosure practice and rewarded by bug bounties. Flaws are first communicated to the association and forwarded to sponsors. Their public release may be delayed. In case security flaws imply a need of re-design, this re-design is automatically suggested as a potential development for the coming year.
  • Final release Once the code has been gold-sponsored for 5 years, it is released under a non-copyleft license for the whole community.

For projects with multiple versions, each version goes through the process described above, possibly with a more lightweight public evaluation stage. Gold sponsoring for a project gives access to all the versions, but each version has its own 5-year counter for the final release.

Intellectual property policy of the association

Licensing of SIMPLE-Crypto implementations The type of license under which SIMPLE-Crypto implementations are released depends on the project stage:

  • For the development and public evaluation stages, we use only copyleft licenses. Precisely, we use the GPLv3 license for software developments and CERN OHL-S for hardware developments.
  • During the gold sponsoring stage, we use a dual licensing approach. Codes are available under the same copyleft license as for the development and public evaluation stages for open source developments. Gold sponsoring gives access to a yearly non-copyleft license for commercial closed source developments. Precisely, sponsors are granted a yearly MIT-like license during the gold sponsoring.
  • When final release takes place, the codes become available for the whole community under a perpetual non-copyleft licenses. Precisely, we use a MIT-like license for both software and hardware developments.

Our evaluation tools are published under a copyleft license, namely the AGPLv3. They will not be released under a perpetual non-copyleft license because we expect tools to be continuously updated. Silver sponsoring grants access to a yearly non-copyleft licence.

Contributions welcome We welcome contributions to our projects! In order to enable the licensing model explained above, we require contritubotors to signe a Contributor License Agreement (CLA), see the contributing page for more details.

Patents The SIMPLE-Crypto Association does not fill patents. Our developments are all based on peer-reviewed published solutions and are either free of patents or should become free of patents in the long term. In the mid term, code projects are provided “as is”, without warranty of noninfringement, express or implied.