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RSA slightly broken

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the lotsa-bits-in-there dept.

Encryption 137

ccshan writes "Adi Shamir, the "S" in "RSA", discovers a factorization method that renders 512-bit keys vulnerable to cryptoanalysis today. " (its at the NYT:you know what that means)

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connection down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907269)

/me tries to reestablish telepathic link with CmdrTaco

Okay, I give up. What does it mean? Script kiddies? Or was NYT a subscribe site? I can't tell since it seems to have let me in without an account. Damned cookies probably sent cypherpunks combo.

Shamir's machine and EFF's Deep Crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907270)

I personally can't wait to see how the two machines and techniques differ. Now, if they are radically different, I wonder how a combinaton of the two techiques will work. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Of course, with quantum cryptography about to burst onto the scene, public key cryptography, sadly, may just be breathing its last breath. But I degress.

Re:This explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907271)

Yuppers. The DOD has been working on this, with their intrest in prime and random numbers. Apparently it also takes a heep o memory.

Re:This explains a lot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907272)

Money funds all research, even mathematics. With good money you can get alot of good minds together with good equipment (even theorists need computers to proove their work). Without money you have individuals working alone or in small groups; often they replicate each other's ideas and that wastes time.

Re:Adi Shamir can play great poker! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907273)

The system isn't "cracked", it's just weaker than previously thought. Which isn't surprising; we'll continue to make mathematical advances which leave older algorithms behind. It's life.

It's actually not that bad.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907274)

Every crypto implementation I'm aware of that uses RSA uses RSA to transmit a session key, and then uses a cipher based on the session key to transmit the actual data. This has many advantages over using just RSA to send everything -- RSA is very very CPU-intensive, if your data doesn't carve up easily into key-sized chunks you have to add padding, you have to start worrying about the "low encryption exponent attack" (qv Schneier, page 472), etc. So increasing the size of your RSA key merely forces you to also increase the size of your session key to avoid having to pad -- which is a *good* thing. And if you don't have a good source of randomness with which to build your session keys, then you're kind of screwed anyway.
-- Guges --

Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) Rulez! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907275)

That's exactly the reason why everyone needs to switch to ECC (which does not depend on factoring and, of course, is not vulnerable to this type of attack). Plus, it's free - there are no big patents in this field...

Fixed size cyphers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907276)

You cannot just 'increase the size of youre session key'. It's fixed. To increase it you have to develop a new cypher, or apply the one you have more than once (watching for the sutble interactions that happen if you do it wrong).

Cryptography isn't that easy. In fact, it's rocket science.

huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907277)

A symmetric key is the same as a one time pad??

RSA and DES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907278)

Doesn't DES, like RSA, rely on large prime numbers?

Re:Theoretically... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907279)

you're probably safe for about a week after Shamir reveals the algorithms

Sort of. If someone has been logging your traffic and has it all stored away on CD, they can, once the machine is built, go back and start cracking all your old traffic. If all the secrets in your old traffic were time-perishable (old passwords, mash notes to your now-ex) this is no big deal. If it's "the document drop for the nuke plans is at xyz, comrade Lee", or "the PIN number on the bank account is 1076", it's a bigger deal.

The US discovered a whole batch of spies in the 50's when they figured out how decrypt some Soviet traffic from the 40's.

Re:Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) Rulez! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907280)

This is why RSADSI just announced a new patent covering multiple ECC systems. I'd be willing to bet they knew of Shamir's breakthrough and were waiting until they had a golden parachute.

Re:Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) Rulez! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907281)

Incorrect. RSADSI was just granted a significant patent on converting one ECC format to another. I think it also covers how ECC encrypted messages are formatted as well.

What does this mean for Diffie-Hellman/DSS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907282)

Are they crackable in the same short period of time?

Re:Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) Rulez! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907283)

Small snippet from RSA FAQ (

"Elliptic curve cryptosystems, as introduced in 1985 by Neal Koblitz and Victor Miller, have no general patents, though some newer elliptic curve algorithms and certain efficient implementation techniques may be covered by patents."

Re:RSA and DES (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907284)

No. DES is based roughly on "If we do a bunch of bit operations in a really clever fashion, we get something hard to crack."

It is of course, more complicated in practice, but that is the idea.

Re:Time to up the keys size... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907285)

Been at 4096 since my first key , waaay back in '95 :)


Re:Factoring technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907286)

First, an 8096bit cypher is 1KByte. Second, public key cryptography is generally used to encrypt a 128 bit symetric encryption key, which is then used to encrypt the message. Third, nobody uses "null padding"--They do things like pad with the number represenging the totaly number of (non-padding) bytes in the message, or something like that.

Well, so much for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907287)

...modern cryptographic techniques.

Back to the age old, time tested, absolutely secure one time pad (that and a good courier system). As soon as information, be it atoms or bits, is out of your posession or shared amoung two or more people, then it's no longer secret, authentic, or trustable.

Anyone care to comment on how this will effect their deployment of SWAN based router infrastructure?

DVDs and selective payload encryption are your friend.

Re:huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907288)

A symmetric key drives a symmetric algorithm. A one-time pad drives an algorithm like XOR. Only problem is, since XOR and friends are trivially reversible, you can't (ever!) reuse key bits, otherwise a cryptanalyst could detect the repeat frequency and derive the key. OTP is perfectly secure, but arranging to share a secret whose size is the sum of *all* the messages you plan to send is rarely practical.

Re:Not all public key systems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907289)

There are many public key cryptosystems [...]

Well that alone isn't true. There aren't many public key systems -- that's why RSA's patent has been so valuable.

I don't know of any public key systems not based on factoring large primes; which aren't?

factoring prime numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907290)

Isn't one of these projects that get everyone to share their processing power over the net devoted
to factoring large prime numbers?

I read that the only thing that makes Public Key
Encryption work is that there is no way to factor
large prime numbers, or something to that effect.

Are these two things not related?

Re:It's about the increase in computer power, not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907291)

No-one uses trial division. The best factorization
algorithms are (used to be) based on number field sieves and are super-polynomially faster than trial division. They are just at the edge of the
polynomial/exponential speed divide. This kind of idea is why 512 bit keys were said to be risky - we are seeing computer speeds and alorithms march on. Factorization has so far held up well - with many people and millions of hours and dollars thrown at it over the past decades. You never know - though!

MRK who can't log in because of firewall/cookie problems.

Re:Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) Rulez! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907292)

Check out the "Press Box" box on RSA's website. On it you will find the following entry:

April 7, 1999

RSA Release: RSA Data Security has been awarded a U.S. patent on a new, efficient way of converting between two popular but incompatible implementations of elliptic curve cryptography (ECC).

First....what the hell does the patent cover. Does anyone have the actual patent to view?

I have a gut feeling about this one. A few years back, I attended the RSA Conference. During this conference, which had a large contingent of "men in black", the big deal was the cost of cracking DES and they said it could be cracked for about $1 million and specialized HW. There was also a big push to increase key sizes from 1024 to 2048 bits. Even then, they were saying 512 bits was not enough for digital signatures.

Now, the patent is about to expire and they know that plenty of people are going to release their own libraries without the nasty royalty payments. Their lock on the market is about to expire. They have been very good at protecting and enforcing their patents to date and capitalizing on them. Now, they are are targetting ECC and trying to get a lock on the more common implementations. Hmmm. What do you bet they will find a way to make this patent apply to a lot of different things regarding ECC (and probably win).

Sounds like someone sold their soul to the devil to me.

Re:factoring prime numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907293)

Sheer numbers alone aren't going to solve the problem. What is needed is a truly significant advance in factoring theory, more computing power, and probably faster communications between processors.

My guess is that a better factoring algorithm has been found that can be implemented in hardware (probably parallel architecture).

Does anybody have any significant details on this machine?

Re:Uh, I don't know about that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907294)

No, not _any_ algorithm, just whatever one(s) were the one(s) used by the US Gov't agencies at that time. That's why it was significant that the NSA wanted it... it was so they could spy on the "other children".

It's logical to believe this would be a set of algorithims based on the same basic ideas, be it prime factorization, the discrete log problem, or the amount of tea in China.

Re:Time to up the keys size... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907309)

RC5 is a symmetric cipher. This is an attack against RSA, which is a public-key cipher and has nothing to do with RC5.

Re:This explains a lot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907310)

No shit. I've always been a bit terrified to contemplate just how advanced the government's knowledge about things like this is ever since I found out that the design of DES was optimized against a technique (differential cryptanalysis, I think) that wasn't "discovered" by the public academic community for another 20 years!

And this is in mathematics(!), a field where dollars don't drive discoveries. What do they know about cloning, chip technology and other areas where good funding is the most significant obstacle to discoveries?

Adi Shamir can play great poker! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907311)

I was in a rare lecture Adi Shamir gave in our school in israel via Video Conference last WEEK in which he calmly explained to us how come RSA is so unbreakable and how it works exactly!!!

You can imagine my suprise as i saw this article at the NY Times, this guy was EXTREMELY convincing and there was no way to tell from his face he hade already developed a way to crack his own system! WHAT A POKER FACE!!!

The lecture by itself was a fascinating experince, but now it has become

I wish i asked him if he thinks RSA would ever be

try67 [mailto]

Re:Shamir's machine and EFF's Deep Crack (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907312)

Well, lets see here... Deep Crack breaks DES... Shamir's method breaks RSA, so my guess is the synergistic effect here will be rather... minimal. Two totally different problems you see...

And QC is hardly abuot to burst onto the scene... maybe in 20 years it will be ready for a non=trivial problem, but maybe not. Right now it can factor the number 4 with a little help. That's quite a ways from breaking a 1024bit prime. Also at best QC gives you a square root Order of speedup, which is impressive, but if yuo double your key length its sorted....

unbreakable algorithms (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907313)

I highly doubt we'll ever find a truly unbreakable algorithm. As time goes on, we learn more about the mathematics that make algorithms work. And then we can spot vulnerabilities that we couldn't see before.

And remember -- the algorithm isn't always (or, I believe, even usually) the weakest link in the chain.

Re:Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) Rulez! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907314)

Unfortunately, there's been LESS public research on ECC encryption than on factoring techniques. So you might just be switching to a system that has flaws that haven't been discovered yet.

Re:HTTPS / SSL - What does this mean? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907315)

And to complete your answer..

In the US, domestic versions of SSL clients and servers are limited by the U.S. Govt. to 168-bit symmetric keys and 1024-bit asymmetric keys. Export-grade software is limited to 40- (or in some cases 56-) bit symmetric keys, and 512-bit asymmetric keys.

Re:This explains a lot (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907316)

Remember that the NSA is the world's largest employer of mathematicians. It shouldn't be surprising that they have been able to make discoveries faster than anyone else.

Re:forget factoring - quantum cyphers is where its (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907317)

QC is not at all like conventional crypto -- it takes advantage of two corrolated properties of a photon (or other particle), usually the x and y spins of a photon. Corrolated properties are subject to Heisenberg's principle, so unless you know the right way to set your polarizer, you get garbage, and the two sides know someone is listening in because they're getting garbage too. However, to make this work requires a communications channel which preserves spins of photons -- which conventional networks do not, and technically is very hard, so don't expect QC to be something you can use for some time.

Re:Prime-contest (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1907318)

You are thinking of Euclid's proof for the existence of infinitely many primes.

Take all the known primes, multiply them together and add 1. Call this x. x is not divisible by any known prime, so either x itself is a new prime, or some unknown prime divides x.

Note that there is no way to ensure x itself is a prime. In particular, there is no known formula for generating another prime from any quantity of known primes.

Going for pedant points. (1)

Eric S. Smith (162) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907319)

there is no way to factor large prime numbers

10 INPUT "Prime number to be factored"; A
20 PRINT "The factors are:","1",A

The difficulty, as I understand it, has more to do with determining whether a given large number is prime, or the product of two primes (and if so, which ones), or something like that.

I don't really understand the math that makes the cool public key stuff work, but I do know that the special thing about prime numbers is that they don't have factors (beyond the trivial ones produced by my 2-line BASIC program above). Contrast 7 (prime) with 6 (non-prime), for example. Two times three makes six, but what, besides one times seven, makes seven?

Re:Not all public key systems... (1)

Bobort (289) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907320)

El Gamal, ECC, Diffie-Hellman... Read the FAQ at

This explains a lot (2)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907321)

You know, this explains why the government stopped bitching about RSA and dumped any legal action against the PGP folks all of the sudden a couple of years back. I suppose NSA figured this out and decided to keep it to themselves....


Time to up the keys size... (2)

strredwolf (532) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907322)

There goes 512 bit keys in PGP. I'd best revoke my key and rework it on the Linux box.

But this means we could see a way of speeding up's RC-64 contest!!!

Spammed? Click here [] for free slack on how to fight it!

QC = Quantum Computing (2)

cduffy (652) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907323)

Mind-bending stuff, really.

Check out; They're working on a simulator for these things...

There's a Scientific American on the subject at: enfeld.html

Re:Security through openness (1)

Olivier Galibert (774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907324)

No matter what they say, FlexLM does not use cryptography. They simply compute a hash with the license data and some vendor and product related values, then compare it for equality with the password field (with some subtleties).

BTW, RSADSI is probably the only cryptography company that had at a time proprietary cyptography systems trusted by the community (rc2 and rc4). Rivest effect, I guess.


Urm... (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907326)

The public key is used to protect a 128 bit symmetric key (one time pad) in PGP. The symmetric key encrypts the plaintext. This is because the RSA method takes too long to use directly on the plaintext. Thus, we already have 2048 bit keys protecting 128 bit plaintexts.

Re:huh? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907327)

In this case. The symmetric key used is a 128 bit key chosen at random (and thus in this case, it is a one time pad). The algo used is 3des. One time pad just means the key is meant to be used only once. In practice, most OTP keys are for symmetric algos.

Re:What does this mean for Diffie-Hellman/DSS? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907328)

Are they crackable in the same short period of time?

Based on the similarity of the problem, probably. The prudant move is to assume yes, and use longer keys. In fact, use longer keys for any public key system (1024 should be safe for a while, but use 2048 for anything really important.

Theoretically... (1)

Millennium (2451) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907330)

In theory, they could do it. but first they'd need this machine that the article describes. In other words, your keys are still safe until someone actually builds one (even the guy who came up with the algorithm hasn't done that yet).

In other words, you're probably safe for about a week after Shamir reveals the algorithms (which I don't think he's actually done yet). Then, well, I'd look into stronger security.

Re:Factoring technology (2)

slk (2510) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907331)

There is one major problem with this premise.

As the length of the key increases, so does the amount of pad needed to encode short messages. For example, if your key was 8kb long and you encrypted a 2kb e-mail message, you would have 6kb of padding. This means, among other things, that you have 6kb of known plaintext, and also, the large amount of pad would affect the output of the cipher so that the result isn't as random or difficult to decipher as it theoretically should be with that key length.

This is why increasing key length can only happen for a limited time, and we need to keep looking for better algorithms.

Re:Security through openness (2)

YogSothoth (3357) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907332)

Ah, I see what you are getting at - rereading my original post I can see how it might be misinterpreted. My point was that this "hole" in RSA was only found because the algorithm is public (a good thing). An encryption algorithm that wasn't public might well contain an equivalent hole but since it wouldn't be subject to scrutiny it would continue to appear secure. As far as "noone would trust ...", I'm not so certain - many companies use FlexLM to license their software and I've never seen any mention of the algorithm FlexLM uses. (admittedly I may be wrong here, I've not done exhaustive research to find out what sort of crypto FlexLM uses - it may well be published somewhere). My overall point was that with published algorithms one can have confidence in their quality because people are actively trying to break them whereas with proprietary algorithms you just have to trust the vendor.

Security through openness (4)

YogSothoth (3357) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907333)

Interesting article - it shows again how important it is to only trust those algorithms that are open, published and subject to the scrutiny of the community. I am always amazed by the number of companies who really believe that keeping their encryption algorithms or security holes secret somehow makes them more secure. On a related note, I've often wondered if someday someone will find a fast, general algorithm for factoring. Such an algorithm might exist but be as yet undiscovered or it may be the case that brute force is about as good as can ever be done. Fascinating stuff, cryptoanalysis - I strongly recommend reading Applied Cryptography by Bruce Schneier to anyone who is interested in this sort of thing.

Re:Factoring technology (1)

stripes (3681) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907334)

[...]Why not use random noise as the pad[...]

Is this overly easy or am I missing something?

Random numbers are far better then known plaintext. Random numbers are also really hard to get on current machines. What we have is psudo-random (see the man page for random), and on some-OSes we-did-some-stuff-that-may-be-pretty-random (see /dev/random). Psudo-random isn't so much better then known plaintext, in part because sometimes it ends up being known plaintext (like if a program uses the "normal" method of seting the random number seed to the current time, you will amost know the random text). In part because the streams some RNGs make can be recognised.

Still psudo-random would be better then known-not-random.

Also the original message had a small flaw, eight times the current 2K *bit* key size is 2K *bytes*, which isn't way huger then many things you may want to protect. Still if we have to keep expanding the key space every few years it will become a real problem.

No surprise, just a little dissapointment (1)

Streib (4105) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907335)

I'm not terribly surprised to hear about a good algorithm being not quite as good as we expected, but it does dissapoint me a little. Assuming you're not one of the bad guys, who doesn't want to see an uncrackable algorithm emerge?

It was good to see DES last for so long with no real "cracks" that weren't massive brute force. Even today, triple DES looks like it will be pretty strong for a long time.

At least with the openness of the algorithms in question, we'll at least be educated as to how strong they really are, under current technology at least.

Re:Factoring technology (1)

jsproul (4589) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907336)

Why not simply prepend a length field to the message and pad with strongly random data? This is not vulnerable to known-plaintext attack, and the random pad can only be discerned from the "real data" by decrypting the length field. Alternatively, one could use Ron Rivest's MAC-based chaffing-and-winnowing scheme on a packetised form of the message prior to encryption. There are a number of solutions to this problem.

DETAILS!!! Where are the details!!!!???? (1)

Uruk (4907) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907337)

I read the article, and I'm a big fan of the RSA system but the article tells you nothing about the propsed machine, just that there's going to be on. Sure, I can see that the NYT might want to water things down a bit for their readers but they could at least link to somewhere where there's more tech info.

Currently, with packages like maple and mathematica, on a decent box you can factor primes that are reasonably big, but nowhere near in the range of what RSA uses. This special "machine" Shamir says he's thought up...I need the details!!!

Re:HTTPS / SSL - What does this mean? (1)

Martin Foster (4949) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907338)

Actually if I remember correctly from what I have read SSL uses a 128bit symmetric encryption algorithm, such as Idea, 3DES et cetera.

This is diffrent from the asymmetric encryption methods used for PGP, and their strenght is measured differently as well.

A good page to get very basic knowledge on this... Which is incidently where I got this from can be found at the following site. erek/certify/

Re:Prime-contest (1)

Sesse (5616) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907340)

Correct, the EFF has. To join the search, visit The Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) [] , they are ones you would like to join, unless you got a Cray.

The prize is $50,000 for the first 1 million digit prime, $100,000 for the first 10 million and so on up to 1 billion digits. It all goes to you.

/* Steinar */

RSA has not been broken (1)

Sesse (5616) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907341)

There is no `bug' in RSA. The algorithm is still working well and good. The point is: It (like all other public-key algorithms, to my knowledge) depends on the difficulty of factoring a large number. Increase the size of this number, and you're safer. No secret, has never been.

Repeat: RSA has not been broken. Shamir has only found a better way of factoring numbers (but he hasn't even made the machine he's been talking about).

/* Steinar */

Re:Security through openness (2)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907344)

I'm not sure what you mean. The RSA algorithm is well-known and has been studied by cryptanalysts and cryptographers exhaustively. Nobody, not even suits at large corporations, would trust a cryptosystem with an unknown algorithm.

The closed part of most closed cryptosystems is the implementation. Of course, nobody should trust a crypto implementation for which they do not have the source, lest the code be mailing your private keys back to the manufacturer/NSA/whomever.


Re:connection down (1)

CMiYC (6473) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907345)

NYT: New Your Times... but sign up to read the article


Re:AES (1)

craw (6958) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907346)

You are correct that the AES is a symmetric algorithm that will hopefully replace the ancient DES (which must be around 20 yrs old by now). I should have been more explicit. I simply put up my original post because I thought that ppl might be interested in this project; that's why I start off with FWIW.

AES (3)

craw (6958) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907347)

FWIW, the (NIST) is currently evaluating several candidates for the new Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) [] . This standard will presumably become the officially approved US Gov encryption methodology. One nice thing about this project is that most of the candidates have made their algorithms available for public scrutiny. Furthermore, it appears that there is concern about IP issues (e.g., patents).

This was taken from the AES site:

A process to develop a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) for Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) specifying an Advanced Encryption Algorithm (AEA) has been initiated by NIST. NIST is currently soliciting candidate algorithms for inclusion in the AES. It is intended that the AES will specify an unclassified, publicly-disclosed encryption algorithm available royalty-free worldwide, that is capable of protecting sensitive government information well into the next century. It is also hoped that this standard will be as widely accepted as the Data Encryption Standard (DES) in the private and public sectors.

I looked at one of the algorithms, but it just made my head hurt.:)

Anyone ever seen sneakers? (0)

Cosmo (7086) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907348)

This reminds me of the movie sneakers, anyone else?

Re:Factoring technology (4)

Andreas Bombe (7266) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907349)

No, there is no known plaintext. You don't encrypt the message, you encrypt a key for conventional cryptography and encrypt the message with that one. And the key you encrypt is (and should be, or you have a problem) a random number of which nothing is known about by an attacker.

Re:quantum cryptanalysis = TEOTWAWKI (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907351)


We need a catchy, or at least pronounceable name,
if we want widespread adoption.

If it doesn't work can the patent lift? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907352)

Isn't that one of the main requirements? That
the "apparatus" being patented has to work?
That way they stopped people patenting perpetual motion machines and so on...

Re:Security through openness (2)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907353)

"I am always amazed by the number of companies who really
believe that keeping their encryption algorithms or security holes secret
somehow makes them more secure."

It buys them time...
If they publish their weak code or their security
holes, they are in trouble right away. Otherwise
they are in trouble, maybe, at some unspecified future time. "They" can live with that. One way
they get money, one way they do not.

Another thing to consider is the soft job market.
The people who wrote your code don't work there anymore, by and large. This is the downside of the ease of finding high-tech jobs, but I digress.

HTTPS / SSL - What does this mean? (1)

jwsh (8945) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907354)

Hmm.. I think I may have just accidentally sent a blank message, ohwell. Preview should be mandatory here too.

Anyway, What does this mean for my https server? I only allow 128bit or better clients, but does this mean potentially anyone sniffing the packets in between me and the clients would (given this nifty new hardware) be able to see everything that is being sent? (or at least with a far greater degrree of ease than before?) I'm afraid I'm not up on my crypto..

quantum cryptanalysis = TEOTWAWKI (3)

parallax (8950) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907355)

Each bit added to a number makes it exponentially harder to factor using a classical computer. Factoring techniques will improve, but there is no reason to believe anyone will ever develop a polynomial time factoring algorithm for a classical (non-quantum) machine.

Factoring large numbers in polynomial time is one of only two known algorithms for quantum computers. A modest quantum computer, if it could be built, would crack every prime-factorization cryptosystem currently in use (which is everything, essentially).

Researchers here at the Media Lab have already built a two quantum-bit bulk spin-resonance quantum computer. There are significant technical challenges to building a quantum computer large enough for cryptanalysis, but there is currently no reason to believe that this is impossible. If it can be done, it will almost certainly be done in the next five to ten years; major governments and private companies all over the world are pouring lots of money into this effort.

RSA is good, but we need to start developing cryptography algorithms which aren't factoring based (or reducible to prime factoring), and we need to start NOW. If there isn't a strong, widely-available non-factoring crypto implementation if/when the quantum computing breakthrough happens, all hell is going to break loose.

You're worried about the banks dropping a few transactions on Y2K? How about someone spoofing the Federal Reserve Banking Netowrk and bringing the global economy to its knees.


They don't know for sure if it will work... (1)

Accumulator (9389) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907356)

The article says if it works. And the computer to use this new calculation hasn't been built yet, so no need to worry. But the article also stated that this machine would be cheap to build, so it would be exciting to see what it gets to :) 1024-bit keys will still be considered secure for some time, though. So our privacy is not yet threatened :)

Prime-contest (1)

Accumulator (9389) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907357)

Wasn't somebody having a contest with $$$ to the first person to find a prime number with one million digits or something?

Re:Factoring technology (check out RSA's website) (2)

incubus (9714) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907359)

They explain at that (as another mentioned here already) the secret key for regular encyption is the only thing encrypted by public key, so you don't have to worry about how big your message is.
The rsa FAQ is pretty interesting

Nope! Re:Fixed size cyphers (1)

trims (10010) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907360)

Perhaps you are thinking of certain symetric cyphers like DES or IDEA. Both have fixed key lengths. However, many other algorithms don't suffer from such a limitation. A good example is Blowfish, which (IIRC) has a key length from 64 to 448 bits, variable.

Check out Applied Cryptography for examples of other variable-length cyphers.

Whether increasing keylength is a good idea or not, though... 128-bit keys are secure against any brute force search for a very long time ( even at 1 billion billion billion try/sec (ie 2^27)) it takes ~8e22 YEARS to break. Increasing a key further than this is silly. Symetric algorithms are invulnerable to advances in factoring and related math; they are vulnerable only to weaknesses in their underlying design.


Re:HTTPS / SSL - What does this mean? (1)

madbrain (11432) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907362)

Actually SSL uses a combination of both assymetric and symmetric.

The symmetric key is used for encrypting the data itself. However, obviously both sides need to have the key for it to work. The first step in SSL is a key exchange mechanism. Typically a symmetric RC4 key is generated by the client, then sent to the server encrypted with the server's public RSA key. Other ciphers are available as well but the RSA / RC4 combination is the most common.

Re:Not all public key systems... (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907363)

I'm not sure if I would trust any of the new PK systems until they have been exhaustively analyzed.

My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I remember there were a large number of PK systems before RSA that were proposed and then cracked in rapid succession.

Re:Factoring technology (1)

Wag the Dog (12835) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907365)

Well that's rather ignorant. Why not use random noise as the pad and have a field in the message that would indicate the true length of the plaintext. Through away everything else after that lenght once decoded. The field would be encoded also, so you couldn't easily pick out the plaintext length.

Is this overly easy or am I missing something?

Factoring technology (3)

Rayban (13436) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907366)

If I'm not mistaken, RSA becomes free in September 2000 (patent expiry). Maybe this is RSA's way of "planned obselecance". :)

Because it relies on the product of two large primes, RSA will always be vulnerable to advances in factoring technology. In about five years, even the 1024-bit keys may become easily breakable. Until a real method to factor numbers faster than currently becomes available, we are going to find that RSA is still the most powerful encryption algorithm available (security vs. speed). I would recommend that the minimum key length in bits be increased to at least 8 times the maximum for easily broken keys.

In this case, 512 is easy to break, so 4096 should be the standard. This should yield a number of years of security. And, as always, make sure you give your keys one-year expiry dates.

Re:Prime-contest (1)

dirty (13560) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907367)

There is something I feel I should point out. It's not just a large prime, they are really simple to come by. IIRC a Mersenne Prime is a prime number in the form (2^n)-1. There is a rather simple formula forgetting primes from another prime. I forget what it is but it's something like taking a prime and multiply it by 2 then add 1. Although this hasn't been working for me too well so far. If anyone else knows this formula please post it. It's gonna drive me crazy to figure it out. Then again I could be 100% off.

Re:Anyone ever seen sneakers? (1)

nester (14407) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907369)

sneakers was one of the dumbest i've ever seen. right up there with "hackers"

Re:Shamir's machine and EFF's Deep Crack (1)

Compuser (14899) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907370)

Quantum cryptography I presume.


Codeine (18332) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907371)

You know what this means!?

They knew when they published, they've watched half a hundred stumbling steps and laughed, and finally, after selling bogus security for 15 years, they laugh all the way to the bank and disprove themselves, so we can pay them more money to fix what they knew was broken.

Uh, I don't know about that... (1)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907373)

Big difference here...Shamir's new thing just reduces (by a lot, albeit) the computation required to factor RSA. Assuming this just reduces factoring difficulty, a bunch of other public key cryptosystems won't be affected (like ElGamal, which deals with the difficulty of the discrete log problem instead of prime factorization). The Sneakers story revolved around a little box which (in a matter of seconds) cracked _any_ data scrambled with _any_ algorithm.

CJK, frantically trying to finish up his crypto semester project (due tomorrow), which deals with discrete log public key crypto :)

Uh, not so fast.. (1)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907374)

ECC isn't necessarily tied to any given cryptosystem (there are several cryptosystems which use ECC). It's just that the math operations are done over elliptic curves instead of some other finite field...

(and I'm not sure that the statement about no patents is necessarily true)

But yes, ECC _is_ cool...but needs more research. Lots of people would be a little wary of implementing it, since EC cryptosystems haven't gotten as much scrutiny as of yet.


Wow, lay off the crack... (1)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907375)

Dude, regardless of advances being made...quantum crypto is *NOWHERE CLOSE* to being practical. Factoring single digit numbers won't get you very far. If you equate 'about to burst onto the scene' with 'several decades', then _maybe_ I might be able to not laugh out loud :)


??? What are you talking about? (1)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907376)

I'm not sure how the weakness of one particular algorithm (RSA) has implies vulnerability in 'modern cryptographic techniques'.

Sure, this shows a weakness in RSA (but if you are using 512-bit keys right now, you are living dangerously as far as what's recommended)

Shamir's discovery doesn't imply any weaknesses in the entire class of public key cryptosystems based around discrete logs. (or other public key cryptosystems not based around prime factorization, such as some knapsack types and McEliece, based on algebraic coding)

The one time pad is impractical for all but a very narrow group of scenarios.


Not all public key systems... (1)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907377)

There are many public key cryptosystems which do not get their strength from the difficulty of factoring prime numbers.


?? What you're saying makes no sense. (1)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907378)

? What you're saying makes no write as if the government only uses encryption based around 1 principle. It's not like the government says "ok, we're going with discrete logs" and standardizes on that....they pick standards, and the standards use whatever method they happen to use. There is definitely (and has always been) cryptosystems in use within the government that are based on a variety of principles. So, like I said, this makes the Sneakers idea way off and your comment about 'what the governmetn was using at that time' bogus too..


Re:Not all public key systems... (1)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907379)

Hehe...just because you don't know about them doesn't mean there aren't a load of them :)

You have ElGamal, based on discrete logs...(and the discrete log problem generalizes easily to allow for many many many variants on the same principle). DSA is based on discrete logs, too.

Most EC cryptosystems are based on an analog of the the discrete log problem on a finite field...generally a more intractable problem than the general discrete log problem (except for a few degenerate cases, in which it reduces to the problem of discrete log in a finite field).

McEliece, based on algebraeic coding theory...

I think there is one cryptosystem based on the knapsack problem which is yet unbroken (most knapsacks are shown to be weak)


Re:quantum cryptanalysis = TEOTWAWKI (1)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907380)

Why are you saying 'we need to start developing cryptography algorithms which aren't factoring based, and we need to start NOW' if we don't already have plenty such algorithms. Look into ElGamal or any other discrete log cryptosystem. ElGamal has the bonus have having an already-expired patent...


Practical Issues??? (2)

Corbett J. Klempay (20854) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907382)

Uh, do you realize how slow 4096-bit key generation is? Sure, computers are always getting faster...but you have to realize that the state of the art machine is not the 'baseline' platform. You also have to realize that these things need to work with cpu-poor devices, like smart cards. EC cryptosystems help this out to a degree, but they are no panacea either.

Sensible key sizes are a much better solution. Using the max key size 'just because it's there' is just wasteful (and slow as hell).


Re:Anyone ever seen sneakers? (1)

toolie (22684) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907384)

No kidding. I'm stuck trying to decide if this makes life more interesting/entertaining or just downright scary.

Not published yet (1)

admcd (23824) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907385)

Adi Shamir has not published this paper yet. It is being presented at Eurocrypt on Tuesday.

Spine tingling - I thought of sneakers as I read (1)

Cptn Proton (29372) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907391)

It's neat to think that there is a psychic connection with other slashdots

To be honest, I always thought that the movie 'sneakers' would remain fiction, with any attack done the 'brute' force way, which really made these cyphers intractable.

I thought that the story was well written, and this just proves it.

forget factoring - quantum cyphers is where its at (1)

Cptn Proton (29372) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907392)

Scientific American carried a story about a cypher using 'quantum mechanics'

Theoretically this cypher is the cypher to end all cyphers. I say 'theoretically' because that's the way it is for all codes, until perserverance and science break them.

But the quantum mechanical cypher is pretty convincing. Any one have good links?

Re:They don't know for sure if it will work... (1)

Centove (29943) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907393)

The article says if it works. And the computer to use this new calculation hasn't been built yet,
That he is aware of. The governments have a way of keeping things real secret when its in the intrest of 'national security'. Ah well maybe I'm being paranoid.

It's about the increase in computer power, not RSA (3)

BIFFSTER (31667) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907394)

Shamir has designed on paper a parallel machine that can crack 512 bit keys in a 'reasonable' amount of time.

All this heralds is that computing power has acheived another milestone, and that it's gotten easier/faster to factor numbers - and thus crack crypto.

Let it be pointed out, though, that the difficulty increase for each bit increase is exponential, not linear, so 768/1024/2048 bit RSA keys should be safe for quite some time...

maybe 10 years? HHOS.

Re:unbreakable algorithms (1)

paul r (32049) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907395)

I think that this is the requisite response to a question about unbreakable systems. We have it and it's the one time pad. It has the same problem as all symmetric systems in that you need to secretly share the key with the added bonus of having to keep a key as long as the message, and never being able to reuse a key. It's a nightmare for key distribution.

Since what you are combining with is totally random there is no way to crack this system. One decryption is equally as likely as any other. I'm looking forward to Tuesday to see what the paper turns out to be.

Re:Prime-contest (2)

acarey (34175) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907399)

The problem is that Mersenne's formula does not reliably generate primes, i.e. a portion of the primes returned by (2^n)-1 [where n is itself prime] are _not_ primes. Hence all Mersenne primes generated via (2^n)-1 have to be tested to make sure they're bona fide, hence expensive computations required :)


Re:AES (2)

mistshadow (35753) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907400)

The AES is for a new symmetric encryption algorithm, to replace the tremendously outmoded DES. This has nothing to do with public key cryptography.

Re:It's about the increase in computer power, not (1)

isidore (37373) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907401)

where did you get this info? certainly not the nyt article. you can't write this off as just more computational power -- there is some slick algorithm at work here for factoring in hardware. i doubt any machine could reasonable attempt trial division on numbers of that size. and reducing the time to factor a 140 digit number to the time required to factor 80 digits is seriously incredible. if it works.

Re:It's about the increase in computer power, not (1)

isidore (37373) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907402)

i realize that there is no trial division in todays factoring landscape, my point was that the factoring "equivalent" of brute forcing a keyspace is trial division. i have never heard of factoring implemented in hardware, which is what really intrigues me: does he implement the gnfs or ecm, or what?

Re:Shamir's machine and EFF's Deep Crack (1)

TheSlack (41111) | more than 15 years ago | (#1907403)

What is QC?
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