Notre Dame Mathematician Solves ECCp-109 Encryption Key Problem Issued in 1997

Mississauga, Ontario – (November 6, 2002) – Certicom Corporation (TSX: CIC), a leading provider of wireless security solutions, today announced that Chris Monico and his team of mathematicians from Notre Dame have successfully solved the Certicom ECCp-109 Challenge. The challenge was solved utilizing a massive amount of computing power including 10,000 computers (mostly PCs) running 24 hours a day for 549 days. 

“Without a doubt, this is one of the world’s largest single math computations ever completed,” said Chris Monico, a post doctorate researcher in mathematics at Notre Dame. “Cracking this code was a massive undertaking in terms of time, resources and CPU cycles. It has been the most difficult elliptic curve discrete algorithm problem ever computed.” 

Issued by Certicom in 1997, the ECC Challenge has attracted some of the world’s leading cryptographers, mathematicians and computer scientists comprising of some 247 teams with 10,308 individual members. This first of its kind challenge was designed to encourage further research into security standards while placing ECC under third party scrutiny where individuals and organizations can freely test the technology. The knowledge and experience gained from this challenge will help confirm comparisons of the security levels of public key systems such as ECC, RSA and DSA that have been based primarily on theoretical considerations. 

“We issued the ECC 109 challenge to demonstrate a real world example of how difficult it would be to solve a single instance of an ECC key even at a low strength,” said Dr. Scott Vanstone, Founder and Executive VP Strategic Technology for Certicom. “The ECC 109-bit problem was solved in the manner and timeframe we predicted. This challenge also validates the security strength of ECC because the key solved was well below the commercial standards our clients use today which is ECC 163 or higher. If someone were to try and solve ECC 163, it would be approximately one hundred million times harder to solve than ECC 109.” 

Chris Monico will receive a $10,000 US prize for solving the ECC 109 Challenge. He will donate $8,000 to the Free Software Foundation while giving Meunier Gerard and B.J. Smith $1,000 each for their contribution to the problem. 

Certicom is offering $20,000 US in prize money for the solution to the next challenge. It is expected that the ECC 131 Challenge will require several thousand times more computing power than the ECCp-109 Challenge. For more information on the ECC 131 Challenge, visit http://www.certicom.com/

Certicom is a pioneer in the development and growth of ECC as a wireless security standard. The company was first to bring this powerful and efficient form of public-key cryptography to market with the introduction of its Security Builder toolkit back in 1997. ECC is particularly beneficial in applications where bandwidth, processing, or battery power is constrained such as security for handhelds, mobile middleware and other embedded devices. 

Today, Certicom Developer Toolkits give OEMs and developers the ability to add strong, standards-based security to wireless devices and applications without impacting performance and usability while the movian security applications give companies the ability to extend mission critical enterprise applications to mobile professionals by providing secure wireless access. For more information on Certicom wireless security solutions, visit www.certicom.com

About Certicom
Certicom is a leading provider of wireless security solutions, enabling developers, governments and enterprises to add strong security to their devices, networks and applications. Designed for constrained devices, Certicom’s patented technologies are unsurpassed in delivering the strongest cryptography with the smallest impact on performance and usability. Certicom products are currently licensed to more than 300 customers including Texas Instruments, Palm, Research In Motion, Cisco Systems, Oracle and Motorola. Founded in 1985, Certicom is headquartered in Mississauga, ON, Canada, with offices in Ottawa, ON; Herndon, VA; San Mateo, CA; and London, England. Visit www.certicom.com.

For further information, please contact: 

Brendan Ziolo André Fuochi
Certicom Corp. Maverick Public Relations
(613) 254-9267 (416) 640-5519
bziolo@certicom.com andref@maverickpr.com