Crypto researchers abuzz over flaws

Wednesday, 18 August 2004, 10:15 AM EST

The excitement began Thursday with an announcement that French computer scientist Antoine Joux had uncovered a flaw in a popular algorithm called MD5, often used with digital signatures. Then four Chinese researchers released a paper that reported a way to circumvent a second algorithm, SHA-0.

While their results are preliminary, these discoveries could eventually make it easier for intruders to insert undetectable back doors into computer code or to forge an electronic signature--unless a different, more secure algorithm is used.

A third announcement, which was even more anticipated, took place Tuesday evening at the Crypto 2004 conference in Santa Barbara, Calif. The other papers also were presented at the conference.

By Declan McCullagh at CNET.

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