Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Cracking a Prime Cryptosystem," by Ivars Peterson. Science News, 6 February 1999, page 95.

Many of today's encryption systems are based on the RSA cryptosystem. The security of RSA depends on the prohibitive amount of time required by the fastest computers to factor large numbers into their prime-number components. Recent work by Dan Boneh and Ramarathnam Venkatesan shows that sometimes the RSA system can be broken by methods more easily implemented than factoring. The RSA system is still safe, however, because even these more efficient methods require too much time to practically implement.

--- Kathryn Leonard