RSA (an abbreviation of names Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman) is a public key cryptography algorithm, which is based on the computational complexity of the problem of integer factorization.
RSA cryptosystem is the first system suitable for encryption and digital signatures. The algorithm is used in a large number of cryptographic applications, including PGP, S / MIME, TLS / SSL, IPSEC / IKE and others.
Published in the November 1976, the article New Directions in Cryptography by Martin Whitfield and Diffie Hellman overthrew the idea of cryptographic systems, laying the foundations of public key cryptography. Subsequently developed the Diffie-Hellman key exchange allowed two parties to obtain the shared secret key over an insecure channel. However, this algorithm did not solve the problem of authentication. Without using additional tools, users could not be sure they have generated a shared secret key with a right person.
After reading New Directions in Cryptography, three scientists Ronald Rivest, Adi Shamir, and Leonard Adleman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have begun the search for a mathematical function that would allow to implement the model of public key cryptography systems formulated by Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman. After working on more than 40 possible variants, they managed to find an algorithm based on the difference in how easy it was to find large prime numbers, and how difficult it was to factorize the product of two large prime numbers, which later received the name of the RSA. The system was named for the first letters of the names of its creators.
In August 1977, in the “Mathematical Games” column of the journal Scientific by Martin Gardner American, appeared the first description of the RSA cryptosystem with the permission of Ronald Rivest.
After the Martin Gardner’s publication, anyone could get full description of the new cryptosystem by sending a request by mail to Ronald Rivest, with enclosed self-addressed envelope and stamps for 35 cents. Full description of the new cryptosystem was published in the Communications of the ACM journal in February 1978.
The patent application was filed December 14, 1977, with MIT as the owner. Patent 4405829 was issued September 20, 1983, and September 21, 2000 has expired. However, outside the United States the inventors have not the patent on the algorithm, as in most countries, it was necessary to get it befor the first publication.
In 1982, Rivest, Shamir, and Adleman formed the company RSA Data Security (at the moment – a division of EMC). In 1989, RSA, together with a symmetric cipher DES, is mentioned in RFC 1115, thereby starting the use of the algorithm in the emerging Internet, and in 1990 Ministry of Defense started to use the algorithm.
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