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

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.