Gartner: Crims will use PS3 to crack crypto

The proliferation of devices like PlayStation Three that pack the power of a supercomputer will be an irresistible target for criminals, who will use them to crack cryptographic keys.

That's the opinion of Gartner's Steve Prentice, voiced yesterday at the firm's ITxpo/Symposium in Sydney.

Prentice said PlayStation 3 will pack an impressive 207 teraflops of power under its slim hood when released locally next year. By comparison, his research indicates that the .entry level. machine from supercomputer Cray offers 230 teraflops.

"There will be millions of PlayStation 3's sold, and they will all be online," he said, predicting that the sheer computing power available between the machines will be among the largest and most powerful computers ever assembled.

That power, he believes, will attract criminals.

"Today, Trojans are about sending Spam," he said. "But I think criminals will use Trojans to steal processor time for PlayStations when they are not in use, and use that power to attach cryptography systems and deduce the prime numbers used to generate keys."

Prentice said this behavior is the downside of the increasing "consumerisation" of IT, whereby the sheer power of the technology devices people buy for use at home sets the agenda for how they expect businesses to deliver services, and for the IT services they expect to be offered at work. This trend, he said, has implications for security.

As an example of this trend, he offered the scenario of a worker attempting to e-mail large files inside an organisation that limits the amount of e-mail storage offered to users.

Such users, he said, will simply not bother breaking the file into chunks small enough to pass through the e-mail system, but will instead turn to consumer-oriented services for a solution.

"With web-based e-mail services offering two gigabytes of storage, they'll just do it," he says. "They know it is breaking the rules and that there are security and privacy issues. They know they are operating outside the firewall. But they just want to get their jobs done."

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