IBM claims advanced encryption algorithm

By Ashlee Vance, IDG News Service |  Security

SAN FRANCISCO -- The mathematicians at IBM have been hard at work, with Big Blue claiming Thursday that it developed a new algorithm that should provide increased network security.

Charanjit Jutla, a researcher at IBM, apparently invented an algorithm capable of performing both encryption and authentication functions in one, simultaneous step. IBM says the technology takes advantage of parallel processing hardware and reduces the time it takes to perform some security-related tasks by as much as 50 percent.

"What Jutla has been able to do is accomplish both [encryption and authentication] at the same time," said Charles Palmer, manager of network security and cryptography at IBM Research.

IBM presented the algorithm at a conference held earlier this month after filing the applicable patents, Palmer said. Big Blue waited until now to release it in order to make sure some of the remaining bugs could be worked out.

By accomplishing multiple tasks at once, the algorithm can reduce some of the workload off networks and devices.

"The guys with the long-haul networks are going to be interested," Palmer said. "So are all these guys with [mobile commerce] in their eyes."

A handful of network infrastructure companies are already experimenting with the algorithm as a foundation for some of their security technologies, Palmer said.

Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM looks for the algorithm to be scooped up for securing Internet protocols, SANs (storage area networks), fiber optic networks, and intensive e-business applications. IBM said the algorithm will be examined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which will determine whether to recommend it as a standard for securing communications.

Ashlee Vance is a San Francisco-based reporter at IDG News Service, an InfoWorld affiliate.

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