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Happened across a couple articles today, that I found interesting, is AES-256 vulnerable to attack? After reading the articles (IANAM – I am not a mathematician), it seems like the answer is no, for now. Should we be worried? – I don’t think so, we are constantly working on new encryption algorithms, and to say that we are going to be on AES-256 for the next 25-50 years is a little absurd.
So, yes, scientists have found a way, no matter what difficulty they have, and what hardware they have,they have found that they can “break” AES-256 3 to 5 times quicker than was thought, or that was able to do before. Just to bring you back down to Earth on this idea. The current stats of time required to break AES-256 (calculated before these current scientists gave their information, with a 256-bit key) is 3.31 x 10^56. Just using purely rough numbers, that means that it would take billions of years to crack a single key. Then, with the current details, that the scientist provides, if you divide that time, by 5, you come up with 6.6 x 10^55, which is still billions of years.
It is safe to say, at this stage in the game we are safe. We must continue to develop new encryption standards, and new encryption schemes, but not to completely freak out, and lose our minds right now, with this newly released information about AES-256. The other thing, that I’m also taking into consideration; if scientists found a way to reduce the amount of time to compute a key by 5, it is likely that sometime in the future, additional scientists will find a way to reduce the amount of time to compute, by even more. Regardless, at this time, we are safe, and as long as we keep working on new encryption standards, we will still be safe, even when AES-256 is down to hundreds of years to crack.
Don’t freak out now, but keep urging people to continue working on encryption standards to improve on current schemes.
I use encryption in nearly aspect of my life. Some uses are more effective than others, admittedly, however, there is encryption everywhere. For an example:
My Android phone is encrypted
My computer’s partitions are LUKS encrypted
The website you’re reading this on, is encrypted
Encryption is an integral part of life, in assuring both security and integrity of my website, my emails, and pretty much everything I do in life. I don’t partake in any criminal acts, but I still don’t want anyone to be able to view my data, if I don’t want them to.
I found this excellent article over at TED, discussing why you should care about encryption too.
So why does encryption matter, anyway?
Well, some would have you believe that encryption is a tool for the “bad guys,” enabling terrorists to have an easy way of plotting their next crimes. In reality, banning encryption won’t stop terror attacks or end religious extremism. But such a ban could stifle democratic movements, scuttle online security, and undermine our open society.