Feeds

Number crunching boffins unearth crypto flaws

Making a hash of it

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
SMASH the Bash bug! Red Hat, Apple scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Desperate VXers enslave FREEZERS in DDoS bot
Updated Spike malware targets Asia
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.