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New Algorithm Shakes Up Cryptography

CNRS (05/15/14)  Researchers at the CNRS Lorraine Laboratory of Research in Computer Science and its Applications and the University of Paris’ Computer Science Laboratory have uncovered a flaw in cryptography security. Their work discredits several cryptographic systems that until now were assumed to provide sufficient security safeguards. The team has solved one aspect of the discrete logarithm problem, considered to be one of the chief goals of algorithmic number theory, which serves as the foundation for the security of many of today’s cryptographic systems. The researchers have devised an algorithm that is able to solve increasingly large discrete logarithm problems, while its computing time increases at a far slower rate than with previous algorithms. As a result, computation is made considerably easier. However, the researchers note the work is still theoretical and needs to be refined before it is possible to provide a practical demonstration of the weakness of this variant of the discrete logarithm. Nonetheless, they say it is likely to impact cryptographic applications of smart cards, radio-frequency identification chips, and other security devices.


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