The other day while migrating data from my old Linux workstation to my new one, I came across a file that had my login credentials for both my personal account and the CAU team account over at Distributed.net. If you’re not familiar with Distributed.net, it’s a massively multi-player (heh) encryption-cracking effort. By sheer force of numbers, they have in the past cracked crypto challenges for the RSA’s DES II-1 and DES-III challenges (they lost DES II-2 to the EFF), RSA Labs’ RC5-56 and RC5-64 challenges, the CS Communications & Systems cipher challenge, and others. The way it works is, you, the average computer user, download the Distributed.net client application (dnetc) and run it on your computer. You can configure it to only run while your screen-saver is on, or you can configure it to run in the background at all times. Either way, when your computer is idle, it will use those idle processing cycles to work on a chunk of crypto data that it has downloaded from the available work-pool at Distributed.net. Essentially, it contributes to the community workload when you aren’t using your computer.
Archive for February, 2007