Posted By: ITWiser Webmaster - Yorkshire's IT Specialists
New Theory Sparks Encryption Security Fears
The basic information theory assumption that cryptology is based on has come under scrutiny this week as new research has revealed encryption systems may not be as secure as we believe them to be.
According to a report by The Register, scientists in the United States and Ireland claim that it is easier to take encrypted files and gather their original contents than previously thought. The research carried out by three scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and one from the National University of Ireland (NUI) discovered that computers have the ability to find correlations between encrypted and unencrypted data a lot faster than expected, and code-breaking software requires just one reliable correlation before it can crack an entire file.
While we are reassured that cracking a file is no straightforward task, the scientists believe that it is nowhere near as tough as the months or even years of processing time that we expect.
“It’s still exponentially hard, but it’s exponentially easier than we thought,” said co-author of the research Ken Duffy, of the National University of Ireland (NUI) to The Reg.
“Attackers often use graphics processors to distribute the problem. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can guess stuff.”
The cross-Atlantic team of scientists presented their findings, entitled Brute Force Searching, The Typical Set and Guesswork, at the International Symposium on Information Theory, and plan to take their research even further with a follow up paper on the security of keyless door locks and wireless keycards, which will be released in the autumn.
Matthieu Bloch, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, also moved to play down any features of cryptographic systems being totally insecure.
“My guess is that it will show that some of them are slightly less secure than we had hoped, but usually in the process, we’ll also figure out a way of patching them," he said. "It’s essentially saying, ‘Hey, we have to be careful.’ But it also provides a methodology to go back and reanalyse all these things.”
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