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While creating more secure technology requires the coordination of software, networks, and hardware, cryptography is at the heart of it. Keeping with the theme of creating a more diverse security shield, a panel of noted cryptographers – Ronald Rivest of MIT, Adi Shamir of the Weismann Institute of Science in Israel, Martin Hellman of Stanford, and Whitfield Diffie, Chief Security officer at Sun Microsystems – called for new encryption methods to be developed and disseminated.

Aside from ECC, only two encryption techniques are widely used nowadays, called RSA and Diffie-Hellman. The RSA method, named after the three MIT researchers who developed it, basically relies on factoring large numbers, while the Diffie-Hellman technique uses discrete logarithms to create a key. If there existed more than just two encryption schemes, Hellman says, there could be more redundancy in the encryption: if one type failed, others could keep information secure.

Issues of security are becoming increasingly important as more and more business transactions migrate to the Web. Hellmen notes that, while no encryption scheme will be completely foolproof, there’s a strong effort going on to address security issues before they become major problems. In the interim, he offers a bit of low-tech advice: “Write down your password. Your wallet is a lot more secure than your computer.”

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