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IBM claims crypto breakthrough

Researchers at Big Blue have developed an encryption method that they claim is much tougher to crack than conventional technology.

IBM (IBM) said today that its researchers have developed a new encryption method that takes a big step toward a "truly invincible" system for protecting data traveling over the Internet.

The new public key encryption technique, if and when it debuts, could make electronic commerce safer and more appealing to consumers, IBM said. The encryption can also be tailored to allow different levels of security to comply with various governmental regulations.

However, developers will have to wait for the new technology. Categorizing the development as "more scientific than practical," the company said there is more work ahead before it yields a commercially viable system. IBM gave no date for delivery of commercial products.

The encryption method, developed by IBM researchers Miklos Ajtai and Cynthia Dwork, departs from today's cryptograph systems that use randomly generated encryption codes, which are vulnerable to attack. The new method is considered by mathematicians to be impossible to solve, IBM said.

Ajtai and Dwork presented their finding this week at the Association of Computer Machinery Symposium on Theory of Computing in El Paso, Texas. IBM has posted a technical report describing the new system.