Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Moore's Law is a Factor in This

I remember when Derek Atkins was sending mail to the cypherpunks list, looking for hosts to dedicate to cracking RSA-129. I remember when they announced that “The Magic Words are Squeamish Ossifrage.” How it took 600 people with 1,600 machines months of work and then a Bell Labs supercomputer to work through the data. I had a fun little stroll down memory lane reading about average machines not having more than 16MB of ram, and how they borrowed a server with 2, later 3 900 MB disks. 129 decimal digits fits in 430 bits. The RSA-129 paper concludes:

We conclude that commonly-used 512-bit RSA moduli are vulnerable to any organization prepared to spend a few million dollars
and to wait a few months.

Fast-forwarding to this week, David Molnar mentions that “We’re living in the future now:”

The 512-bit RSA key used for signing applications and firmware updates for the TI-83 has been factored. By some person working on his or her own. With one computer.

David links to “Calculator hackers crack OS signing key, opening a closed platform,” and following links, we get to “fun number theory facts:


A mathematical morsel for your entertainment and edification.

The number

is the product of


3 comments on "Moore's Law is a Factor in This"

  • Nicko says:

    Pretty cool. I remember implementing the RSA algorithm on a TI-57 calculator back in 1979, but the keys I could handle were even shorter than this.
    Of course it would have been really cool if they had managed to factor the key using a TI-83 calculator 🙂

  • AnonyMouse says:

    Have you noticed that these numbers have been taken down elsewhere via (probably spurious) DMCA takedowns? Just curious what you’ll do if you get one of those…

  • intalvals says:

    Bookmarked by the billions Dvd site!

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