Swiss crack email encryption

Friday, 21 February 2003, 3:31 PM EST

Researchers at a Swiss university have cracked the technology used to keep people from eavesdropping on email sent over the Web, but experts say that the impact is likely to be minimal.

Professor Serge Vaudenay of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne found a way to unlock a message encrypted using Secure Socket Layer protocol technology, according to a posting on the research institute's Web site.

However, cryptography experts said it was not the version of security that most consumers use to shop online.

Rather, it is a version that only affects email, is limited in scope and not widely used, said Professor Avi Rubin, who is technical director of the Information Security Institute at Maryland's Johns Hopkins University.

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