A team of researchers from Shandong University, Chinese Academy of Science and Shanghai Jiaotong University have recently proved that the SHA-1 encryption method, which is used to create digital signatures and been regarded previously as unbreakable, can now be decoded through the use of distributed computing.

Cryptographist Bruce Schneier points out in his blog that the research result is based on a study of SHA-0 and SHA-1 computing methods, and it is a great achievement since it has shaken the position of SHA-1 as the main computing method for creating digital signatures.

Researchers Wang Xiaoyun, Yiqun Lisa Yin, and Yu Hongbo published an article last year discussing ways of decoding other computing methods, including MD-4, MD-5, HAVAL and RIPEM-D.

SHA-1 has been certified by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) in the United States and is the only computing method approved to be used in the US government. Since SHA-1 produces a 160-digit number string, which is longer than that produced by MD5, it was previously believed to be safer.


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