Volume 91, Issue 12

Wednesday, September 17, 1997



Cracking the code

By John Intini
Gazette Staff

Two Western math professors have devised an encryption technology method that will soon make it impossible for even the greatest experts of computer fraud and espionage to crack their codes.

Applied math professors Pei Yu and Turab Lookman have spent the last three years devising an encoding and decoding system which secures the transfer of data, whether it be through computers, bank machines or cellular phones.

The success of their research has brought about licensing demands for their system from Veri-Touch, an American computer company. Gary Brant, chief executive officer of the New York based company, said the work of the two professors is a huge discovery in the world of communication and message transferring.

"The system that Yu and Lookman have invented is going to revolutionize the communication world," Brant said. "Never before has a system been created that is able to provide 100 per cent recovery of the message without a delay in the transfer. It is remarkable."

The system works under what is known as the mathematical chaos theory, Lookman explained. The highly complicated theory is used along with modern technology to transfer voice and data communication into what is known as 'white noise', which is undecipherable for any unwanted eavesdropper and can only be de-scrambled with the proper receiver, he said.

In other words, the system takes an image and scientifically hides it from unwanted eyes and ears, Yu said. "The key to our system is that it works on real time. Other discoveries have done similar things but only ours works on transferring without a delay."

Practical applications of the system include Internet security as well as security during phone calls and for Automated Banking Machines, Lookman explained.

"We live in a world filled with multi-media," Lookman said, adding this type of system is a very powerful tool in saving money lost each year to fraudulent activities.

"We are currently working strictly with banks and credit card companies but are already looking into the possibility of using the technology with phone systems," Brant said.

The device needed to run the system will cost approximately $300 US and would include a sensor that would decipher a fingerprint as well as a video camera that would provide a physical identifier, Brant explained.

"One of the only roadblocks with the discovery might stem from the American government," he said. Under current laws it is illegal to have encryption 'too strong' – it presents a concern involving problems with organized crime and terrorism, Brant explained.

"I guess a worry might be that the device could get in the hands of mob bosses," he said. At this point in the marketing of the product the government has remained silent, he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1997