Fujitsu cracks 978-bit encryption algorithm


A research team from Japanese computing firm Fujitsu has managed to crack a 978-bit pairing-based cryptography system that has been hailed as the next generation of encryption security.

The team were working alongside Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) and Kyushu University and, between them, managed to decrypt the code in 148.2 days.

This beats the previous record for breaking a code of 676 bits, which was held by Japan's Hakodate Future University and NICT in 2009. Cracking a 923-bit key was considered to be hundreds of times more difficult.

The scientists said, to overcome the problem of cracking a seemingly impossible code, several new technologies were used. These include optimisation techniques, a new two-dimensional search algorithm and parallel programming.

To crack the code, the team used 21 personal computers with 252 processor cores. The cryptanalysis is the equivalent to spoofing the authority of the information system administrator.

"As a result, for the first time in the world we proved that the cryptography of the parameter was vulnerable and could be broken in a realistic amount of time," the team said in a statement.

The researchers said the attempt to crack the code was not just a new world record of cryptanalysis, "it also means the acquisition of valuable data that forms a technical foundation on which to estimate selection of secure encryption technology or the appropriate timing to exchange a key length."

The team is now engaged in further research "that pushes the boundary of the secure use of cryptography."

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.