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Closer to Breaking Public Key Encryption?

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By Allan Holmes September 14, 2007

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An article posted yesterday by New Scientist (full article requires a subscription) appears to have serious implications for those who use encryption to secure information, which means everything that underpins online banking, e-commerce â€" and what secures most government information. Two researchers â€" one in Australia and another in China â€" have come one step closer to building a “laser-beam quantum computer” capable of breaking common encryption, according to the article abstract.

The article requires more than a passing knowledge of computer science and mathematical theory, as well as the ability to understand Shor’s algorithm, which involves prime number factorizing. New Scientist does provide an explanation of Shor’s algorithm.

But it doesn’t take a mathematician or physicist to understand the implications; most IT managers should get it. From the New Scientist: “Both groups have built rudimentary laser-based quantum computers that can implement Shor's algorithm - a mathematical routine capable of defeating today's most common encryption.”

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