13 January 1999
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 08:08:14 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org From: David Parkinson <email@example.com> Subject: IrishCrypto From the front page of today's Times <www.the-times.co.uk> As usual (technically) content free. Anyone know any technical details? David Teenager cracks e-mail code BY AUDREY MAGEE, IRELAND CORRESPONDENT AN Irish schoolgirl was yesterday hailed as a mathematical genius after devising a code for sending secret messages by computer. Sarah Flannery used the science of cryptography to design a code that is ten times faster than the one currently used to convert confidential information so that it can be sent via the Internet and e-mail. She has been inundated with offers of jobs and scholarships from international computer companies and universities. Miss Flannery, 16, from Blarney, Co Cork, used matrices to formulate an alternative to RSA, the current data protection code, devised by three students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. The result is an algorithm, a mathematical blueprint, that is far faster than the RSA and equally secure. Miss Flannery, whose father, David, lectures in mathematics at Cork Institute of Technology, devised her code to enter the Irish Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition. She won at the weekend and left the judges unable fully to comprehend her project. They described her work as "brilliant" and one judge advised her to patent it. Miss Flannery said she was thrilled. "I had to go through lots of stuff before I finalised the theory," she said. "I reached critical points where I would get stuck for three weeks or so. I just kept thinking about it and then the whole thing slipped into place." The oldest of five children, she earned eight As in her junior certificate, the Irish equivalent of GCSEs, with extra tuition from her father. Miss Flannery is now deciding what to do with her new code, the Cayley-Purser, named after Arthur Cayley, an eminent 19th-century Cambridge mathematician, and Michael Purser, a cryptographer who inspired her. She is considering publishing her findings rather than patenting as she does not want people to pay for her discovery. She will represent Ireland at the EU Science Contest in Greece in September.
From: William Whyte <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "'email@example.com'" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Cc: "'Michael Purser'" <email@example.com> Subject: RE: IrishCrypto Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 10:00:37 -0000 On Wednesday, January 13, 1999 8:08 AM, David Parkinson [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org] wrote: > >From the front page of today's Times <www.the-times.co.uk> > As usual (technically) content free. Anyone know any > technical details? Yes, I do. It's based on work that Sarah did in Baltimore when she was here on a student work placement last March. We've been looking at algorithms based on 2x2 matrices for a while and gave her the idea to see what she could do with it. The idea we were working on was to use 2x2 matrices with entries modulo n, n the product of 2 primes (ie an RSA number). The security is therefore exactly the same as the security of an RSA key with the same modulus. However, the encryption and decryption processes require only a small number of matrix multiplications rather than modular exponentiation, so both public-key operations (16 multiplications over the finite field) and private-key operations are as fast as a normal RSA private-key operation (17 multiplications). The downside is that both the key and the ciphertext are about eight times the length of the modulus, rather than more-or-less the length of the modulus as with RSA. That was our idea, anyway. I haven't had time to look at Sarah's project in great detail so I don't know how far (or even whether) she's taken it beyond where we had it. Sarah, by the way, is level-headed enough to know that new public-key algorithms only made you millions if you invented them in the Seventies. Her real problem is trying to stop the journalists talking up the stupid parts of the story while still emphasising that there's a real story in there. Cheers, William ============================================================================= William Whyte, Senior Cryptographer, Baltimore-Zergo Zergo & Baltimore Technologies merge in $55m deal ! The new company name will be "Baltimore" See Baltimore at Stands 235 & 425 RSA Data Security Conference, 17-21 Jan '99 Baltimore Ltd, IFSC House, International Financial Services Centre, Custom House Quay, Dublin 1, Ireland. Tel. +353 1 605 4399 Fax. +353 1 605 4388 Email: email@example.com Website http://www.baltimoreinc.com/ Baltimore - Global e-Security
From: William Whyte <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "'email@example.com'" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: RE: IrishCrypto Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 11:26:27 -0000 On Wednesday, January 13, 1999 10:01 AM, William Whyte [SMTP:email@example.com] wrote: > That was our idea, anyway. I haven't had time to look at Sarah's > project in great detail so I don't know how far (or even whether) > she's taken it beyond where we had it. (replying to own mail... this way lies madness) In fact, Sarah made substantial contributions to the development of the algorithm, finding a way of trading off key generation time against encryption time and doing a lot of work on the proof of security. It's very impressive. William