Internet security code cracked - a network of 292 computers broke the security code used to protect Net transactions.

October 99 News & Events

A team of international researchers has managed to break the security codes used to protect Internet transactions, it was reported in late August. RSA Data Security, a division of Security Dynamics Technologies, said the team used a network of 292 computers at 11 different locations over seven months to break the code.

RSA had issued a challenge to see who could crack its program. The team was required to determine the two prime factors in a 512 bit encryption key. The key is used to decode encrypted data.

RSA officials said in a release that the breakthrough 'reconfirms its ongoing recommendation for using 768-bit keys as the minimum for achieving reliable security.'

The 512 bit encryption system is the highest level allowed for export in the US.

The international team used some hard-core computing to break the key. RSA said the project involved 160 175-400 MHz SGI and Sun workstations, eight 250 MHz SGI Origin 2000 processors, 120 300-450 MHz Pentium II PCs and four 500 MHz Digital/Compaq CPUs, and required approximately 8000 MIPS-years of CPU effort.

Details about the RSA Factoring Challenge is available at

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