Global team cracks crypto challenge

An Irish mathematician and his team have cracked the seventh and toughest encryption problem as part of a challenge by Canadian company Certicom Corp to prove that one type of encryption is tougher to break than another.

The challenge involved 97-bit elliptic curve cryptography vs 512-bit RSA (Rivest-Sharmir-Adleman), a more common encryption method.

The solution was discovered by 195 volunteers in 20 countries after 40 days of calculations on 740 computers, Irish mathematician Robert Harley said in a statement. Solving the problem used approximately 16,000 Mips-years of computing, twice as much as solving a 512-bit RSA problem, officials said. One Mips-year is the computing power of one system that can crunch a million instructions per second running for a full year.

The team concluded that the elliptic curve encryption was tougher to crack, but debate continues within the security community on the issue.

Certicom launched a series of increasingly difficult cryptography problems in November 1997 with prizes worth as much as $US100,000. Andrew Odlyzko, head of mathematics and cryptography research at AT&T Labs, said the test "demonstrates the need to keep increasing cryptographic key sizes to protect against growing threats".

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

More about AT&TCerticom

Show Comments