Press Release #2 For Immediate Release

Rocke Verser (
Thu, 17 Apr 1997 18:09:17 -0600


LOVELAND, COLORADO (April 17, 1997). Thousands of computers, all
across the U.S. and Canada, are linking together via the Internet in an
unprecedented attempt to "crack" the Data Encryption Standard, DES.

The so-called DESCHALL effort is responding to a challenge,
including a prize of $10,000, being offered by RSA Data Security to the
individual or group which is first to decode RSA's secret message.

According to Rocke Verser, a contract programmer and consultant,
who developed the specialized software in his spare time, "There are
over 2500 computers now working cooperatively on the challenge."

Using a technique called "brute-force", computers participating in
the challenge are simply trying every possible key. "There are over 72
quadrillion keys. A number", Verser quips, "about 15,000 times larger
than the deficit."

But the DESCHALL group is racing through the keys at an incredible
pace. The group is now trying over 50 trillion keys per day -- or more
than 600 million keys per second.

Perhaps even more impressive, the number of computers
participating, and the rate at which they are trying keys has been
doubling every 8 to 11 days for the past 2 months.

If the number of participants continues to double every 10 days, it
should take about 2 months to find the key. If no other participants
joined the effort, it should take about 2 years to find the key.

Word of this cooperative effort has spread primarily by word of
mouth, and the Internet equivalents -- IRC, Newsgroups, and Mailing

Noone knows where the growth of this type of cooperative computing
effort will peak.

"Members of the DESCHALL team will be in a festive mood, Friday",
Verser predicts. "About suppertime" on Friday, DESCHALL computers will
have tested 1% of the total set of 72 quadrillion keys.

Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can participate.
The software is available free of charge, and a portion of the prize
money will be awarded to the computer user that finds the correct key.

Information about the DESCHALL effort, including how to join, is
available from the official DESCHALL Web site at:

Matt Curtin, (908) 431-5300 x 295, <>

Rocke Verser, (970) 663-5629, <>

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Background / Sidebar, for Release dated April 17, 1997

The Data Encryption Standard, DES, is a national standard, adopted
in 1977. Use of DES is mandatory in most Federal agencies, except the
military. DES is very widely used in the private sector, as well.

Interbank wire transfers, Visa transactions, your medical and
financial records, and your employer's financial data are some of the
many things secured against prying eyes or against modification by DES.

When the Data Encryption Standard was adopted in 1977, there was
some question as to whether or not the Standard was adequate to protect
confidential data.

Matt Curtin, Chief Scientist for Megasoft, Inc. says, "This is
proving by example, not by mathematical calculation, that DES can be
broken with little or no cost." Curtin added, "Others could just as
easily be attempting to gain access to multibillion dollar wire

Matt Curtin, (908) 431-5300 x 295, <>

Rocke Verser, (970) 663-5629, <>

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