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The Code Book
Simon Singh
London : Fourth Estate, 1999
ISBN: 1-85702-889-9

The code book goes through the history of codes and ciphers, dicussing the ongoing battle between the codemakers and codebreakers. The lesson that can be learned from this book is that as long as there is someone out there trying to break the strongest encryption around, the chances are that they will eventually. No code or cipher has passed the test of time. RSA, although proving itself over the last twenty or so years, has yet to be proven unbreakable.

In Code - A Mathematical Journey
Sarah Flannery with David Flannery

In 1998 Sarah Flannery entered the Young Scientist Competition in Dublin. Having one the Intel Award for Excellence, she extended her project with a new encryption scheme. The scheme was based on a system conceived by Dr. Micheal Purser of Baltimore Technologies. Sarah extended the idea to matrices and it appeared she had come up with a system that outperformed RSA while maintaining the same level of security. However it later became known that an attack existed that left unsecure as a public key cryptosystem.

The report for the project can be found at

Factorization and Primality Testing
D.M. Bressoud
New York : Springer-Verlag, c1989
ISBN: 0-387-97040-1

The book gives the basic number theory necessary to understand the many algorithms contained in the book. Fermat and Pollard algorithms, the quadratic sieve, continued fractions, and elliptic curve applications are included in the discussion.

Cryptography and Data Security
Dorothy Elizabeth Robling Denning
Reading (Mass.). - London : Addison-Wesley, 1982
ISBN: 0-201-10150-5

Contains good technical discussions on various encryption schemes, including possible weaknesses in them.

Applied Cryptography
Bruce Schneier
New Nork. - Chichester : Valley, c1996
ISBN: 0-471-12845-7

The "Bible of Cryptography" as many in the industry dub it.

Rational Points on Elliptic Curves
J.H Silverman and J. Tate
New York : Springer-Verlag, c1992
ISBN: 0-387-97825-9

Discussions on elliptic curves and their applications including the Elliptic Curve algorithm for factoring large numbers. There are also good references to elliptic curve cryptosystems.


R.L. Rivest, A. Shamir, and L. Adleman
A Method for Obtaining Digital Signatures and Public-Key Cryptosystems
Communications of the ACM, 21(2):120-126,

Gustavus J. Simmons.
A ’weak’ privacy protocol using the RSA cryptoalgorithm.
Cryptologia, 7(2),
Apr 1983.

John M. DeLaurentis.
A further weakness in the common modulus protocol for the RSA cryptoalgorithm.
Cryptologia, 8(3),
Jul 1984.

M. Joye and J.-J. Quisquater.
Faulty RSA encryption
UCL Crypto Group Technical Report CG-1997/8,

WWW Sites

RSA Factoring-By-Web Project

The idea behind this project is that volunteers download a factoring program. The program runs on the volunteer's PC as a background process. Each volunteer has a part of the problem to do. When finished the results are sent back to the controlling host. The final analysis can be done by this powerfull computer when all preliminary results are complete.

Report on the 1993 Distributed Factoring Effort

Martin Garnder published a challenge in his magazine column in 1977 which gave a message encrypted with RSA (brand new at the time). He also published the public key. It would be until 1994 that the challenge was beaten by a group of over 600 computers. The link leads to a report on the achievement.

Handbook of Applied Cryptology

Alfred J. Menezes, Paul C. van Oorschot and Scott A. Vanstone
CRC Press
ISBN: 0-8493-8523-7
October 1996, 816 pages

Many of the chapters from the book are downloadable.

Online Tutorial on Elliptic Curves

A good place for a beginner to start.


Cryptixtm is an international volunteer effort to produce robust, open-source cryptographic software libraries. Cryptix products are free, both for commercial and non-commercial use and are being used by developers all over the world. Development is currently focused on Java.

Elliptic Curve Discrete Logarithms Project

Organized by Irish Mathematician, Rob Harley, this site coordinates efforts to break the elliptic curve cryptography challenges using distributed volunteers.

Electronic Privacy Information Center

International Association for Cryptologic Research

The International Association for Cryptologic Research (IACR) is a non-profit scientific organization whose purpose is to further research in cryptology and related fields.

Ronan Killeen
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