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Is RSA algorithm still secured?




January 9th 2023 | 266 readers

Photo de Dan Nelson sur Unsplash
Photo de Dan Nelson sur Unsplash
Researchers in China claim to have made a significant breakthrough in quantum computing by figuring out how to break the RSA (Rivest-Shamir-Adleman) public-key encryption system using a quantum computer that is soon to be publicly available. RSA encryption is still used in older enterprise and operational technology software and in code-signing certificates, and if broken, would allow a malicious adversary to generate signing keys or decrypt messages. This could enable them to snoop on internet traffic and potentially pass off malicious code as a legitimate software update, potentially allowing them to take control of third-party devices.

A research was published in a white paper by the UK's National Cyber Security Centre in November 2020, and warns that almost all of today's public-key cryptography systems are easy to crack with a large general-purpose quantum computer. The new Chinese researchers' paper, dated from December 2022, and titled "Factoring integers with sublinear resources on a superconducting quantum processor," claims that they can break the 2048-bit RSA algorithm using a 372-qubit quantum computer. However, there are some limitations to their claim. The researchers only had access to a 10-qubit device to practice on and were unable to demonstrate their hypothesis on anything larger than 48-bits.

Many experts are questioning the validity of the researchers' findings, as the paper has not undergone peer review, which is generally considered a minimum standard for evaluating the scientific value of a research paper. A discussion on Google Groups has challenged whether the paper's method for factoring 2048-bit integers is actually any faster than classical methods, and analysis by cryptography expert Bruce Schneier warns that the researchers' algorithm relies on a controversial paper by German mathematician Peter Schnorr, which "falls apart at larger sizes." After the criticism of the paper's dependence on Schnorr's algorithm was raised, Schneier stated that he was "much less worried that this technique will work now."

Philippe NIEUWBOURG
Philippe Nieuwbourg is an independent trainer and analyst, a specialist in data analysis for... Know more about this author

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