SHA-1 Encryption Algorithm Cracked

    February 21, 2005

SHA-1, a nine-year old, secure online communications encryption algorithm has been hacked by a group of three Chinese researchers.

The SHA-1 standard is one of the primary building blocks for most cryptography protocols and is used to create digital signatures. Because of SHA’s unending reach throughout the encryption industry, problems resulting from this hack could be gigantic.

According to,

Virtually all application and server software that incorporates SHA-1 into its functions – including Web browsers, e-mail clients, instant messaging programs, secure shell clients, and file- and disk-encryption software – will need to be replaced or upgraded

For regular computer users, the breaking of SHA-1 has no sudden repercussions. Secure online communications have not been thrown wide open. A tougher standard that hasn’t been broken, called SHA-256, already exists. Encryption experts are urging software companies to integrate SHA-256 into applications that currently use SHA-1.

News of the SHA’s hack surfaced at the RSA conference, an event devoted to securing Internet and other computer technologies.

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