Commentary – Math Advances Raise the Prospect of an Internet Security Crisis
Academic advances suggest that the encryption systems that secure online communications could be undermined in just a few years, by Tom Simonite on August 2, 2013. Technology Review.”Cryptographic schemes protect vast quantities of financial and personal information. The encryption systems used to secure online bank accounts and keep critical communications private could be undone in just a few years, security researchers warned at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas yesterday. Breakthroughs in math research made in the past six months could underpin practical, fast ways to decode encrypted data that’s considered unbreakable today. Alex Stamos, chief technology officer of the online security company Artemis, led a presentation describing how he and three other security researchers studied recent publications from the insular world of academic cryptopgraphy research, which covers trends in attacking common encryption schemes.
“Our conclusion is there is a small but definite chance that
RSA and classic Diffie-Hellman will not be usable for encryption purposes in four to five years,” said Stamos, referring to the two most commonly used encryption methods.
Any hints that those methods could be undermined must be taken seriously, said Stamos. They are used to protect banking, online commerce, and e-mail, as well as the mechanisms that ensure that updates downloaded by operating systems such as Windows and OSX are genuine. The result of the two encryption methods being broken would be, said Stamos, “a total failure of trust on the Internet.”