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Scientists Break Largest Encryption Key Yet with Brute Force

The key, only one-third the length of most commercial encryption keys, took more than 35 million compute hours to break.

How safe is "safe"? That's the question at the heart of research into breaking encryption keys — research that has led a team in France to the most complex encryption algorithm to date. At 240 characters long, the new record bests the old decryption record by 8 characters, though it still falls far short of the complexity of the algorithms used in commercial cryptography today.

In order to break the encryption generated by the RSA algorithm, researchers used a network of computers to deliver the 35 million compute hours required to solve the problem. While mathematically and computationally interesting, the result is not seen as a harbinger of the end of effective encryption. 

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