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. (
: 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.