RSA 56-bit Challenge Met, New 64-bit Challenge Begun
In 250 days and with the combined efforts of some 4,000 teams of computers, distributed.net has completed the RSA Data Security Challenge to break a 56-bit RC5 encryption algorithm, demonstrating that a group of computers, if harnessed together by determined owners, can break such encryption. To locate the correct key, the teams analyzed 47 percent of the possible keys, some 34 quadrillion. The encrypted message read, "It’s time to move to a longer key length." Although the Macintosh made a significant contribution, in part due to the Apple Evangelistas team led by Guy Kawasaki, the key was broken by Peter Stuer’s Intel-based PC. Peter was part of the STARLab Bovine Team, primarily located in Brussels, Belgium. Distributed.net has begun a 64-bit challenge, and a Macintosh client is available via FTP as a 303K download; look for it also on the distributed.net Web site shortly.