A very bad day for EMC subsidiary RSA Security
Despite the lack of detail, several computer security specialists said the breach could pose a real threat to companies and government agencies who rely on the technology.
One possibility, said Whitfield Diffie, a computer security specialist who was an inventor of cryptographic systems now widely used in electronic commerce, is that a “master key” — a large secret number used as part of the encryption algorithm — might have been stolen.
The worst case, he said, would be that the intruder could produce cards that duplicate the ones supplied by RSA, making it possible to gain access to corporate networks and computer systems. Mr. Diffie is vice president for information security and cryptography at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.