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Crypto guru debates efficiency discovery

Encryption expert Bruce Schneier downplayed this week the importance of a University of Illinois professor's newest method of breaking the digital codes that secure information. In a paper published on his Web site, Daniel Bernstein, an associate professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, outlined a new technique for factoring numbers that promises to make breaking encryption much easier for any encryption methods that rely on factoring. However, Schneier, the chief technology officer at network-protection company Counterpane Internet Security, argued in his latest monthly Cryptogram communique that Bernstein's breakthrough relies on a redefinition of efficiency that doesn't jibe with reality and only makes a difference for extremely large code keys. The length of the keys currently used to encrypt data top out at 4,000 bits, far too short to gain any benefit from Bernstein's technique, said Schneier.

Encryption expert Bruce Schneier downplayed this week the importance of a University of Illinois professor's newest method of breaking the digital codes that secure information. In a paper published on his Web site, Daniel Bernstein, an associate professor of mathematics, statistics and computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, outlined a new technique for factoring numbers that promises to make breaking encryption much easier for any encryption methods that rely on factoring.

However, Schneier, the chief technology officer at network-protection company Counterpane Internet Security, argued in his latest monthly Cryptogram communique that Bernstein's breakthrough relies on a redefinition of efficiency that doesn't jibe with reality and only makes a difference for extremely large code keys. The length of the keys currently used to encrypt data top out at 4,000 bits, far too short to gain any benefit from Bernstein's technique, said Schneier.