RSA Factoring Challenge

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The RSA Factoring Challenge was a challenge put forward by RSA Laboratories on March 18, 1991[1] to encourage research into computational number theory and the practical difficulty of factoring large integers and cracking RSA keys used in cryptography. They published a list of semiprimes (numbers with exactly two prime factors) known as the RSA numbers, with a cash prize for the successful factorization of some of them. The smallest of them, a 100-decimal digit number called RSA-100 was factored by April 1, 1991. Many of the bigger numbers have still not been factored and are expected to remain unfactored for quite some time, however advances in quantum computers make this prediction uncertain due to Shor's algorithm.

In 2001, RSA Laboratories expanded the factoring challenge and offered prizes ranging from $10,000 to $200,000 for factoring numbers from 576 bits up to 2048 bits.[2][3][4]

The RSA Factoring Challenges ended in 2007.[5] RSA Laboratories stated: "Now that the industry has a considerably more advanced understanding of the cryptanalytic strength of common symmetric-key and public-key algorithms, these challenges are no longer active."[6] When the challenge ended in 2007, only RSA-576 and RSA-640 had been factored from the 2001 challenge numbers.[7]

The factoring challenge was intended to track the cutting edge in integer factorization. A primary application is for choosing the key length of the RSA public-key encryption scheme. Progress in this challenge should give an insight into which key sizes are still safe and for how long. As RSA Laboratories is a provider of RSA-based products, the challenge was used by them as an incentive for the academic community to attack the core of their solutions — in order to prove its strength.

The RSA numbers were generated on a computer with no network connection of any kind. The computer's hard drive was subsequently destroyed so that no record would exist, anywhere, of the solution to the factoring challenge.[6]

The first RSA numbers generated, RSA-100 to RSA-500 and RSA-617, were labeled according to their number of decimal digits; the other RSA numbers (beginning with RSA-576) were generated later and labelled according to their number of binary digits. The numbers in the table below are listed in increasing order despite this shift from decimal to binary.

The mathematics[edit]

RSA Laboratories states that: for each RSA number n, there exist prime numbers p and q such that

n = p × q.

The problem is to find these two primes, given only n.

The prizes and records[edit]

The following table gives an overview over all RSA numbers. Note that the RSA Factoring Challenge ended in 2007[5] and no further prizes will be awarded for factoring the higher numbers.

The challenge numbers in white lines are part of the original challenge and are expressed in base 10, while the challenge numbers in yellow lines are part of the 2001 expansion and are expressed in base 2
RSA number Decimal digits Binary digits Cash prize offered Factored on Factored by
RSA100 100 330 US$1,000[8] April 1, 1991[9] Arjen K. Lenstra
RSA110 110 364 US$4,429[8] April 14, 1992[9] Arjen K. Lenstra and M.S. Manasse
RSA120 120 397 US$5,898[8] July 9, 1993[10] T. Denny et al.
RSA129 [a] 129 426 US$100 April 26, 1994[9] Arjen K. Lenstra et al.
RSA130 130 430 US$14,527[8] April 10, 1996 Arjen K. Lenstra et al.
RSA140 140 463 US$17,226 February 2, 1999 Herman te Riele et al.
RSA150 150 496   April 16, 2004 Kazumaro Aoki et al.
RSA155 155 512 US$9,383[8] August 22, 1999 Herman te Riele et al.
RSA160 160 530   April 1, 2003 Jens Franke et al., University of Bonn
RSA170 [b] 170 563   December 29, 2009 D. Bonenberger and M. Krone [c]
RSA576 174 576 US$10,000 December 3, 2003 Jens Franke et al., University of Bonn
RSA180 [b] 180 596   May 8, 2010 S. A. Danilov and I. A. Popovyan, Moscow State University[11]
RSA190 [b] 190 629   November 8, 2010 A. Timofeev and I. A. Popovyan
RSA640 193 640 US$20,000 November 2, 2005 Jens Franke et al., University of Bonn
RSA200 [b] ? 200 663   May 9, 2005 Jens Franke et al., University of Bonn
RSA210 [b] 210 696 September 26, 2013[12] Ryan Propper
RSA704 [b] 212 704 US$30,000 July 2, 2012 Shi Bai, Emmanuel Thomé and Paul Zimmermann
RSA220 [b] 220 729   May 13, 2016 S. Bai, P. Gaudry, A. Kruppa, E. Thomé and P. Zimmermann
RSA230 [b] 230 762   August 15, 2018 Samuel S. Gross, Noblis, Inc.
RSA232 [b] 232 768   February 17, 2020[13] N. L. Zamarashkin, D. A. Zheltkov and S. A. Matveev.
RSA768 [b] 232 768 US$50,000 December 12, 2009 Thorsten Kleinjung et al.[14]
RSA240 [b] 240 795   Dec 2, 2019[15] F. Boudot, P. Gaudry, A. Guillevic, N. Heninger, E. Thomé and P. Zimmermann
RSA250 [b] 250 829   Feb 28, 2020[16] F. Boudot, P. Gaudry, A. Guillevic, N. Heninger, E. Thomé and P. Zimmermann
RSA260 260 862  
RSA270 270 895  
RSA896 270 896 US$75,000[d]
RSA280 280 928  
RSA290 290 962  
RSA300 300 995  
RSA309 309 1024  
RSA1024 309 1024 US$100,000[d]
RSA310 310 1028  
RSA320 320 1061  
RSA330 330 1094  
RSA340 340 1128  
RSA350 350 1161  
RSA360 360 1194  
RSA370 370 1227  
RSA380 380 1261  
RSA390 390 1294  
RSA400 400 1327  
RSA410 410 1360  
RSA420 420 1393  
RSA430 430 1427  
RSA440 440 1460  
RSA450 450 1493  
RSA460 460 1526  
RSA1536 463 1536 US$150,000[d]
RSA470 470 1559  
RSA480 480 1593  
RSA490 490 1626  
RSA500 500 1659  
RSA617 617 2048  
RSA2048 617 2048 US$200,000[d]
  1. ^ RSA-129 was not part of the RSA Factoring Challenge, but was related to a column by Martin Gardner in Scientific American.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l The number was factored after the challenge ended.
  3. ^ RSA-170 was also independently factored by S. A. Danilov and I. A. Popovyan two days later.[11]
  4. ^ a b c d The challenge ended before this prize was awarded.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kaliski, Burt (18 Mar 1991). "Announcement of "RSA Factoring Challenge"". Retrieved 8 March 2021.[dead link]
  2. ^ Leyden, John (25 Jul 2001). "RSA poses $200,000 crypto challenge". The Register. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  3. ^ RSA Laboratories. "The New RSA Factoring Challenge". Archived from the original on 2001-07-14.
  4. ^ RSA Laboratories. "The RSA Challenge Numbers". Archived from the original on 2001-08-05.
  5. ^ a b RSA Laboratories. "RSA Factoring Challenge". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  6. ^ a b RSA Laboratories. "The RSA Factoring Challenge FAQ". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  7. ^ RSA Laboratories. "The RSA Challenge Numbers". Archived from the original on 2013-09-21. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Status/news report on RSA data security factoring challenge (as of 3/30/00)". 30 January 2002.
  9. ^ a b c RSA Honor Roll
  10. ^ Denny, T.; Dodson, B.; Lenstra, A. K.; Manasse, M. S. (1994). On the factorization of RSA-120. Advances in Cryptology – CRYPTO' 93. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Vol. 773. pp. 166–174. doi:10.1007/3-540-48329-2_15. ISBN 978-3-540-57766-9.
  11. ^ a b Danilov, S. A.; Popovyan, I. A. (9 May 2010). "Factorization of RSA-180" (PDF). Cryptology ePrint Archive.
  12. ^ RSA-210 factored,
  13. ^ INM RAS news
  14. ^ Kleinjung, Thomas (18 Feb 2010). "Factorization of a 768-bit RSA modulus" (PDF). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  15. ^ Thomé, Emmanuel (December 2, 2019). "795-bit factoring and discrete logarithms". cado-nfs-discuss (Mailing list).
  16. ^ Zimmermann, Paul (February 28, 2020). "Factorization of RSA-250". cado-nfs-discuss (Mailing list).