Researchers Step Closer to Cracking RSA Encryption

Researchers are closing in on deciphering 1,024-bit RSA encryption, security industry watchers said following an unprecedented numbers-cracking feat by a group of French, German, and Japanese researchers.

The researchers from the University of Lausanne, the University of Bonn, and the Japanese telco giant NTT set a new record in discovering the prime factors of a special 307-digit number this month.
The discovery took 11 months and 100 years of computer time, according to encryption researchers.

The 1,024-bit RSA keys is the next hurdle, according to encryption researchers.

Recently, a 200-digit number was factored in 18 months and about 50 years of computer time. The latest 307-digit number crack took even less time. "I will not make predictions [about the future of 1,024-bit encryption], but let us just say that it might be a good idea to stay tuned," said Arjen Lenstra, a professor of cryptology at Lausanne.

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Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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