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Scratches on the Surface of SHA256

A closer look at the cryptography in use for digital currency Bitcoin shows new vulnerabilities in SHA256, says Absa information security researcher Frans Lategan.

Frans Lategan – Absa information security researcher and speaker at the ITWeb Security Summit.

Frans Lategan, who will be one of the expert speakers at the annual ITWeb Security Summit, in May, says he will reveal for the first time at the Summit newly-discovered weaknesses in the gold standard cryptography.

Describing the vulnerabilities as “scratches in the paintwork, rather than a train smash”, Lategan says his findings nevertheless indicate that vulnerabilities can exist even in trusted algorithms in use to protect currency as valuable and widespread as Bitcoin.

Lategan explains that Bitcoin, a fast-growing global digital currency that resides solely in the cloud, has already been the victim of attacks.

“The downside of virtual currency such as Bitcoin is that there is no recourse if it is hacked or stolen,” he says.

Which is why any vulnerability in the security around it is of interest.

Lategan points out that SHA256, in use for over a decade, will be replaced by the SHA3 hash family in the foreseeable future.

The annual ITWeb Security Summit will take place from 15 - 17 May 2012 at the Sandton Convention Centre. For more information and to book your seat, go to www.securitysummit.co.za.

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