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26 March 1999
To: cryptography[at]c2.net From: Vin McLellan <vin[at]shore.net> Subject: Silverman on X9.31 RSA Primes Cc: coderpunks[at]toad.com,John Young <jya[at]pipeline.com> Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 04:36:03 0500 Bob Silverman <bobs[at]rsa.com> of RSA Labs, in a sci.crypt debate with Roger Schlafly <nospam.schlafly[at]cruzio.com>, just posted a brief description of the logic and method by which ANSI X9.31, the new RSA Digital Signature Standard for Financial Services, mandates the selection of primes for RSA keys. I thought his terse explanation might be of broader interest. The whole exchange, of course, is posted to the sci.crypt newsgroup under the header: "RSA Key Distribution." _Vin  Subject: Re: RSA key distribution Date: Wed, 24 Mar 1999 15:39:30 GMT From: bobs[at]rsa.com Newsgroup: sci.crypt <Gentlemanly fencing with Prof. Schlafly snipped.> [...] ANSI X9 does crypto standards for the banking community. Bankers are excessively paranoid. (with multibillion dollar IMF transactions, I don't blame them. They are very worried about liability). (1) The method I suggested was *forced* upon me because the banking industry insisted that RSA keys be made from strong primes. In fact, I argued long and hard for merely using random primes, but the political climate was such that such a proposal was doomed to failure. My views are exactly opposite to what you think they are. I do NOT advocate strong primes. The banking industry demanded strong primes, so I gave them a simple and fast technique for generating them. If you had been present at the meetings, you would know this. (2) The method is anything but complicated. It simply requires that N=pq have p+/ 1 and q+/1 with at least one prime factor >= 100 bits. This is done by randomly selecting 4 100+ bit primes which are those factors. One then randomly chooses a starting point to look for p,q and uses the CRT to construct an arithmetic progression such that every number in the progression has p,q +/1 divisible by the 100 bit primes. One sieves out the candidates in the progression which are divisible by small primes, then progressively tests the numbers which survive the sieve for primality. The method is VERY fast. (3) Please name the "many" experts you cite. The experts (those who know factoring algorithms) are all in agreement that strong primes are NOT necessary. This includes me, Peter Montgomery, A. Lenstra, H. Lenstra, C. Pomerance, H. Cohen, S. Wagstaff Jr., and H. Williams. And while requiring strong primes may not be a mathematical necessity, it makes the user community more at ease with the standard. This last fact, in and of itself, gives value to the technique. (4) Having a slightly suboptimal standard now is better than waiting several years to try to force an optimal one. ANSI standards are voted upon by the banking industry. It is they who decide what is acceptable for them to use. <end Silverman quote>  Vin McLellan + The Privacy Guild + <vin[at]shore.net> 53 Nichols St., Chelsea, MA 02150 USA <617> 8845548  <[at]><[at]> 