The cryptographic underpinnings of the Internet are beginning to show some serious wear, and the outlook for better days ahead is not particularly rosy. In just the last week there has been news of major new attacks on perhaps the two most widely used encryption technologies: SSL and AES. We’ve heard talk of cracks in both protocols before, but this time, even the most conservative observers are worried.

A group of cryptographers has devised a new attack against AES, the de facto standard encryption algorithm, that enables them to recover an encryption key in far less time than had been possible before. The attack can recover an AES-256 key in a small enough amount of time to make the method practical for common attackers, leading some experts to recommend that users stop using AES-256 immediately.

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