Feeds

Number crunching boffins unearth crypto flaws

Making a hash of it

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

Cryptographic researchers have discovered weaknesses in the encryption algorithms that underpin the security and integrity of electronic signatures.

The issue concerns hash functions - one way mathematical functions that produce a small fixed length string from a much longer message. This is sometimes called a message digest. When two different input values produce the same output value this is called a collision. Teams of researchers have discovered collision in a series of hashing algorithms much more quickly than would be possible using brute-force attacks.

Antoine Joux, of DCSSI Crypto Lab in France, has broken the hash function of the SHA-0 algorithm. Unconfirmed reports from the Crypto 2004 conference suggest a partial break of the more widely used SHA-1 hash function has also been demonstrated. SHA-1 is embedded in popular email encryption programs such as PGP and is also used in SSL browser security.

And Chinese researchers from Shandong University have published a paper (PDF) outlining mathematical attacks on MD5 that have been independently reproduced.

These findings (still preliminary), and only discovered by using high power computers, mean one type of junk message might be mistaken for another junk message. An attacker's goal would be to substitute something else for the original data and make users trust it. If data can be added to a file (software update or email message) so that the modified message is intelligible and matches the hash of the original message then the impact would be devastating. Things are nowhere near as serious as that.

However, cryptographic weaknesses have been demonstrated. ®

Related stories

Is SSL safe?
Crypto attack against SSL outlined
Weak crypto casts shadow over ecommerce
109-bit Elliptic Curve Cryptography knocked over with brute force
US.gov plans DES's retirement

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
NASTY SSL 3.0 vuln to be revealed soon – sources (Update: It's POODLE)
So nasty no one's even whispering until patch is out
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
FBI boss: We don't want a backdoor, we want the front door to phones
Claims it's what the Founding Fathers would have wanted – catching killers and pedos
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
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?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.