Feeds

Number crunching boffins unearth crypto flaws

Making a hash of it

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Regin: The super-spyware the security industry has been silent about
NSA fingered as likely source of complex malware family
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
HACKERS can DELETE SURVEILLANCE DVRS remotely – report
Hikvision devices wide open to hacking, claim securobods
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
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.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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?