Remember when it was announced that SandForce 2000 series-based SSDs were only obscurifying data at 128-bit AES encryption, rather than the 256-bit protection promised? Turns out it doesn't matter, because a team of researchers recently managed to crack open a 278 digit, 923-bit long pairing-based cryptography system. That's a new world record and up until the time it happened, breaking cryptography that complex was thought to be impossible.
To be fair, the researchers -- a joint venture between Fujitsu Laboratories Limited, Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology, and Kyushu University -- took 148 days (and a few extra hours) to complete the task, and it involved a setup no average no-goodnik could ever get his hands on. (Edit: All right, all right, maybe he could.)
Even cracking the code in that not-insignificant amount of time took 21 computers with a combined 252 cores. Cracking complex cryptographic code is all about the computational firepower you can bring to bear, as Fujitsu explains in its press release:
We were able to overcome this problem by making good use of various new technologies, that is, a technique optimizing parameter setting that uses computer algebra, a two dimensional search algorithm extended from the linear search, and by using our efficient programing techniques to calculate a solution of an equation from a huge number of data, as well as the parallel programming technology that maximizes computer power.
The previous world record for cryptoanalysis was held by researchers from NICT and Hakodate Future University, who successfully managed to crack a comparably paltry 676-bit encryption in 2009.