News that am encrypted swiss army knife from manufacturers Victorinox remained uncracked – and a $100,000 prize went unclaimed – at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month comes as no surprise.
Even if someone had cracked the 2010 version of the famous Swiss Army knife, they would have obtained a lot more than $100,000 from other sources.
Victorinox, the manufacturers of the Swiss Army knife, which dates back to the late 1800s in its various forms, has made much of the unit’s tamper-proof self-destruct mode, but the reality is that the crypto USB drive supports elliptical curve and AES encryption, which makes it almost impervious to crackers using current known technology.
The reputation of encryption technology has taken a battering with the revelations that the A5/1 and A5/3 crypto systems used on cellular networks have been compromised in the last few weeks, but the elliptical curve and especially the AES systems are still, I’m pleased to report, uncracked.
The AES encryption system is likely to remain uncracked for some time to come, as even Bruce Schneier – the renowned ITsec industry sceptic and researcher – said in his research last summer that “AES-128 provides more than enough security margin for the foreseeable future.”
As Schneier observed in his research, cryptography is all about safety margins. If a hacker manages to crack 128-bit AES technology, then you can bet your bottom line that Schneier would be interested, and governments would pay a lot more than $100,000 for the secret. But this clearly isn’t going to happen for some time to come, so I think Victorinox’ cash is safe for the time being.