Is RSA encryption broken?

First spotted on the ILUG mailing list, it appears that a young 16 year old student has cracked the RSA encryption system and won 1st prize at the BT Young Scientist Competition 2007.

If it’s true then Internet commerce could be in for a rough time, but some previous winners have proven to be less than remarkable when seen against the cold light of day. This comment from the winner, Abdusalam Abubakar, seems to indicate that the method used might not be that effective either. Check out this ILUG thread for further discussion. Can it be true he wrote it in Visual Basic?

“It was great, unbelievable. I didn’t think I was going to win anything. I didn’t want to be optimistic,” he told The Irish Times last night. Abdusalam, whose name translates into “man of peace”, based his initial work on partially successful attacks on the world’s most widely-used encryption system, RSA, mounted by two mathematicians. He decided to take the best aspects of both and generalise a new approach, which he believes has the potential to tackle at least some less complex coding systems.


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6 thoughts on “Is RSA encryption broken?


  1. I don’t think the student claimed to break the encryption because when I chatted with him, it was the methodology that he was showcasing, not actual examples of commercial encryption that he had cracked.

    The headline is not based on the evidence displayed at the Young Scientist stand.


  2. Dear Bernie,
    You chatted with Abdusalam Abubakar? Could u please pass me his contact number or email address? I am writing for a Muslim newspaper and would like to interview him for our Feb issue. Thank you.


  3. Unless I’m mistaken, doesn’t breaking this encryption involve also solving the Riemann Hypothesis? Sure, you can factor out the prime using many different algorithms (as code crackers do of course) but typically, it might take perhaps 12 months for a PC to crack just one RSA prime in one encrypted message. Even the FBI don’t admit to being able to do it in less than a few days at a time? Or am I missing something here?


  4. well they didnt give him a young scientist award for nothing. I was talking to him a few days ago and he did crack it after 4 months of hardwork


  5. I had talked to him. He proved a number of theorems extending Wiener’s 1990 attack on RSA. He wasnt factorising the numbers as that will take along time. There was this trick to do with continued fractions. It was pretty cool stuff.

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