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Press Release 27/02


27/02 - The Institut für Telematik (Institute for

Telematics): "For the time being, the security of the Internet is

in no danger of a 'crackable' locking procedure"

Trier. The application of longer

keys and the development of new locking procedures continue to

guarantee confidentiality of data exchange via Internet. This

reassuring statement came from the Trier professor of information

science, Christoph Meinel, in his response to a report published in

the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. In this report, "chaos"

was expected if a US mathematician, Daniel J. Bernstein, would

manage to crack into the locked RSA system with his newly conceived

computer. For 25 years, it has been the world's most important

business principle of e-commerce and has been based on the fact

that large numbers can only be divided into their prime factors

with costly computing. Bernstein's announcement caused quite a fuss

among experts.

"Even if the US mathematician has really managed to

factorize, at equal cost, three times as large natural numbers than

before, hackers and secret services would still not have a "digital

general key" at hand," says Meinel. The director of the Trier

autonomous Institute for Telematics (www.telematik-institut.org) also points out

that cryptologists, i.e. ciphering experts, are also involved in a

permanent race between the procedures and counter-procedures: "The

RSA procedure has been helping us for 25 years. Now there are new

efforts being made in order to develop new systems which will meet

the requirements," says Meinel.

The head of the non-profit Internet research and

development center, also points to the fact that the future quantum

computers will challenge the present locking technique. Frankly,

these computers and their high performance are still twinkle in the

eye, says Meinel. As the second part of the double strategy to

secure both corporate and private confidential communication via

Internet, the Trier scientist recommends first of all to adjust to

a longer key. According to the Professor, users are safe with

2048-digit numbers in computers as an adequate method of binary

recording (2048 bit). At the moment, most data protected by the RSA

technique is coded by means of 1024-bit keys. According to

newspaper reports, even the government information security service

in Bonn pleads for the use of the 2048-bit long key by the year

2006 at the latest.

The organizational structure and orientation of this

registered extra-university and non-profit association make the

Institute for Telematics the only one of its kind in Germany. After

the first four years of hard work, the Institute can boast of great

achievements: Two patents, four graduations and more than 80 expert

presentations at international conferences. The team of some 50

staff members, headed by the Professor Christoph Meinel (48), is

developing user-friendly and practical high-tech solutions.

M-commerce, Internet/Intranet, open network data communication

security, telemedicine, electronic publishing, system designs and

analysis are the present fields of activity of this Trier-based,

yet internationally renowned top institute.