Sunday, November 18, 2007


I just finished reading Professor Adi Shamir's analysis of a new way one can (presumably) break the RSA encryption algorithm, based on a hardware bug (to get the less scientific description, read this short NY Times item).

Prof. Shamir's short analysis gets so much attention, due to the fact he was one of RSA's designers (he's the 'S', the other two are Ron Rivest and Leonard Adelman). RSA is the base to all public-key algorithms, including the one you use every time you browse to a secure site. A breach in this algorithm could bring the entire online commerce to a halt.

Prof. Shamir cites similar cases from recent history, such as the Intel Pentium debacle and the more recent Excel multiplication bug (read about both in an earlier post).

If the above (RSA, public-key, encryption, etc.) sounds like Chinese to you, I'd like to recommend the book The Code Book, by Simon Singh. Singh discusses encryption's history and it's uses - from the ancient world, through middle ages, to the invention of the computer, and onward - to quantum computing and the future of encryption.

Throughout the book are interesting stories, examples and puzzles that would get you involved more and more in this interesting field. Sadly, the final challenge Singh poses in the last chapter has been broken, but you can still take a whack at it and test your skills. I can promise you'll know more about RSA when you finish this fun and educating book. The book has been added to the Amazon Widget on the left.

PS: Thanks to Yaniv, for sending me the original announcement by Prof. Shamir.


Yaniv said...

who sent you this very interesting story?
Was it me? should i cry for credit?


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Traveling Tech Guy said...

You deserve credit :)
0% APR for the first year ;)