An attack on a widely used web security system could soon help make silicon chips more powerful and reliable.
Many websites use cryptographic systems to scramble key data, such as credit card numbers, when customers pay.
Scientists have found that by varying the voltage to key parts of a computer's processor, the ability to keep this data secret is compromised.
The researchers also discovered that a method that helps chips beat the attack could also make them more reliable.
Many modern security systems, such as the ones websites use to encrypt the credit card numbers of their customers, are based around a system known as public key cryptography.
This uses two keys, one public and one private, to scramble data. One of the most widely used implementations of this is known as RSA authentication.
"If data is locked with a public key, it can only be unlocked with the corresponding private key," said Professor Todd Austin, from the electrical engineering and computer science department at the University of Michigan who helped conduct the research.
From BBC News
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