Friday, March 12, 2010

1024-Bit RSA Encryption Cracked by Starving The CPU of Electricity

This is decently troubling news. It may not be as bad as it sounds, because the crack requires careful control on the electricity flow to the CPU. that means the hacker would have to have some way to control the power flow in your server room; not an easy task, nor an easy thing to do undetected. If people from the 'power company' come to check out your server room, you might want to keep a close eye on them.

"Since 1977, RSA public-key encryption has protected privacy and verified authenticity when using computers, gadgets and web browsers around the globe, with only the most brutish of brute force efforts (and 1,500 years of processing time) felling its 768-bit variety earlier this year. Now, three eggheads (or Wolverines, as it were) at the University of Michigan claim they can break it simply by tweaking a device's power supply. By fluctuating the voltage to the CPU such that it generated a single hardware error per clock cycle, they found that they could cause the server to flip single bits of the private key at a time, allowing them to slowly piece together the password. With a small cluster of 81 Pentium 4 chips and 104 hours of processing time, they were able to successfully hack 1024-bit encryption in OpenSSL on a SPARC-based system, without damaging the computer, leaving a single trace or ending human life as we know it."

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