FWD: Quantum computer cracks crypto keys quickly

Dave Bartlett db at thoughtport.net
Wed Apr 1 16:39:00 UTC 1998

Does Zimmerman know about this?! ;-)

Begin forwarded message:

RISKS-LIST: Risks-Forum Digest  Wednesday 1 April 1998  Volume 19 :  
Issue 64

ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy, Peter G. Neumann, moderator


Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 -05:00:00 -0500
From: andrew at greenehouse.com
Subject: Quantum computer cracks crypto keys quickly

A small team of researchers has succeeded in building a prototype  
of the so-called "quantum computer" that can factor large numbers  
quickly and defeat public-key cryptosystems.

The researchers cracked the DES-IV-1 challenge, revealing the  
message "Can't anyone around here keep a secret?"

Since the new computer is based on superconducting quantum  
interference devices, it is not bound by conventional temporal  
limits on computation. In fact, the researchers were able to use  
their system to crack challenges that had not yet been created.   
These future secret messages included, "God in Heaven, what have we  
done?" and the cryptic "tsopyadslooflirpanasisihtsey" -- which  
clearly shows that future challenges are going to use multiple  
layers of encryption.

President Clinton congratulated the researchers, but said that he  
was considering a proposal to ban the export of quarks from the  
United States until the NSA could implement a quark escrow system,  
by which each quark in the universe would be uniquely numbered.

When asked if their invention would enable scientists to foretell  
the future, the researchers pointed out that they can only decrypt  
messages that are encrypted using certain methods that are known  
today.  Furthermore, there is no way for them to determine if the  
messages that they receive are authentic or if unknown people are  
sending false messages to confuse us.

"If only there were a reliable way to digitally sign a transmission,"
bemoaned one of the researchers.


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