Feeds

US encryption relaxation a bit slow

Too little, too late?

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

It was expected that the new relaxed rules on data encryption export from the USA would come into effect on Wednesday, but this will not now happen until 14 January, according to an announcement from the Bureau of Export Administration of the US Department of Commerce. The compelling market need is of course to protect e-commerce payments. The problem seems to be that the draft that was circulated by the BEA did not live up to the September announcement of the relaxation, and was also unworkable. Seven countries that the US regards as sponsors of state terrorism will not be allowed to have access to powerful encryption, nor will countries where the US government considers there to be significant money laundering. The pressure for relaxation, which is only from 40-bit to 56-bit keys (baby stuff nowadays), had come from vendors who pointed out that whereas the US used to have essentially the whole market for encryption products, there were in excess of 500 non-US products with 128-bit or greater encryption. The Norwegian-developed Opera browser offers 128-bit encryption, for example. When 56-bit products were specifically allowed to be exported in the past - to financial institutions for example - they had to have a back door for the Feds. The US IT industry is generally of the opinion that the 64,000-fold increase in security by going to 56-bit encryption from 40-bit is not enough. In June last year the Electronic Frontier Foundation confounded the FBI claim that it would take months or years to crack 56-bit keys: the EFF demonstrated this being done in a few hours. In August, the security system used in Internet transactions was cracked by an international effort coordinated by the Dutch National Research Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science (Centrum voor Wiskunde en Informatica, CWI) in Amsterdam. The RSA-155 code (so-called because the 512-bit numbers in the code have about 155 decimals) was originally developed at MIT. Cracking it required finding the prime factors of a 512-bit number. The factored key is a model of the public key, which is used in the SSL protocol. This means that 512-bit keys are no longer safe against what the team modestly called a "moderately powerful attacker". More bits would help, but the hunt must now be on for something a few orders of magnitude more difficult to crack. ®

Website security in corporate America

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.