New Record Set in Cracking RSA Encryption

A new milestone has been set in cracking encryption. Computer scientists have now cracked 240-bit RSA encryption with brute force.

As security missteps continue to make headlines, it appears that efforts to crack encryption are only growing in sophistication. RSA encryption is a commonly used encryption. Computer scientists are marking a new milestone in cracking the encryption.

The new milestone is that 240-bit RSA encryption has now been cracked. It marks the largest RSA encryption key that has been cracked. The method used is via what is known as brute force cracking. That method basically entails trying every possible combination until the correct solution has been found.

The requirements wound up being quite steep. Utilizing clusters of computers in France, cracking the encryption took approximately 35 million hours (or about 4000 years) to accomplish. From New Scientists:

Long strings of numbers are essential to the encryption that keeps our online data safe. One widely used form of encryption called RSA cryptography relies on the fact that it is extremely difficult to find the prime numbers that multiply together to yield very large numbers.

The team factored RSA-240, an RSA key that is 795 bits in size, with 240 decimal digits. The previous RSA record was set in 2010, with a key of 232 decimal digits and 768 bits.

“We were actually faster than the previous record, even though we computed something larger,” says Thomé.

It took 8 million core hours to crack RSA-240, and computing the discrete logarithm was even more time-intensive, taking 27 million core hours.

While the practicality of cracking such an encryption key is not all that great, as New Scientist points out, the practical applications of using this is pretty much non-existent. This is because the common encryption used today is 2048-bit RSA encryption. The complexity of that is substantially greater. Still, the accomplishment is nothing to dismiss either. A new record is a new record after all. If anything, this shows that computing power is getting better. So, a computers ability to crack security is getting better.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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