Did the NSA make a major math breakthrough?

From The Daily Dot:

To date, there is no known shortcut to quickly factor large integers into primes. It has never been proven that no such shortcut exists. We’ve just never found one.

If the unfactorable nature of these large integers doesn’t interest you, consider that it has been the reason many of your most personal messages are kept private as they move across the Internet.

But the Times report about how the NSA penetrated banking encryption seems to suggest the agency may have cracked the problem. Here’s why (and this is going to take some explaining):

They go on to explain how primes, public key encryption, and the RSA algorithm are related. Nicely done. Great read.

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One Response to Did the NSA make a major math breakthrough?

  1. joshg says:

    Based on comments from Bruce Schnier, who is a security expert and has looked at the NSA docs, they’ve made no such breakthrough. What’s far more likely is that they’ve weakened software anywhere they could, essentially creating their own ways to “cheat” around the math.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/nsa-how-to-remain-secure-surveillance

    Quote from the last paragraph is huge: “Trust the math.”

    Another good writeup along the same lines from a crypto expert:
    http://blog.cryptographyengineering.com/2013/09/on-nsa.html

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