February 28, 2005


Gainesville, FL - February 28, 2005 - The Athena Group, a provider of high-performance, low-power signal processing and security products, announced the immediate availability of two new cores to its robust family of security products. The new Secure Hash Algorithm accelerator cores, SHA2-A100 and SHA3-A100, provide a comprehensive new capability to address the evolving demands for secure hash processing.

"The migration to new secure hash algorithms is going to get underway quickly," says Dr. Jon Mellott, CTO of the Athena Group. "New research has demonstrated that SHA-1 is inadequate, and new products must incorporate stronger secure hashing. Athena's SHA2-A100 and SHA3-A100 cores not only deliver higher throughput, but execute the strongest SHA algorithms of the FIPS 180-2 standard, including SHA-224, -256, -384, and -512, while maintaining backwards compatibility with SHA-1 for legacy applications."

A new paper by three researchers at Shangdong University in China has cast considerable doubt on the effectiveness of the SHA-1 hashing algorithm, a standard used around the world for over a decade. The researchers claim to have developed a new method for attacking the SHA-1 algorithm, which is the basis of digital signatures in numerous protocols including SSL (Secure Socket Layer), used to encrypt traffic to and from millions of websites.

When the SHA-1 algorithm was introduced in the 1990s as the Secure Hash Algorithm Standard, the National Institute of Standards and Technology stated "The SHA-1 is called secure because it is computationally infeasible to find a message which corresponds to a given message digest, or to find two different messages which produce the same message digest." The new attack, however, demonstrates that it may be much easier than previously thought to cause the collisions that produce identical signatures.

Noted cryptographer Bruce Schneier, Chief Technology officer of Counterpane Security, Inc, wrote this week on his website "This attack builds on previous attacks on SHA-0 and SHA-1, and is a major, major cryptanalytic result. It pretty much puts a bullet into SHA-1 as a hash function for digital signatures."

About The Athena Group, Inc.
The Athena Group, Inc., of Gainesville, Florida licenses signal processing and security technology that delivers breakthrough performance, reduced area, and reduced power consumption in a broad range of SoC products. Athena technology is ideal for leading edge applications such as secure e-commerce, wireless communications, and video compression.

Athena was founded in 1986 and is privately held.

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For information on Athena products, contact:

Pat Rugg, VP Sales and Marketing
The Athena Group, Inc.
408 W. University Avenue, Suite 306
Gainesville, FL 32601
Phone: (352) 371-2567 ext. 307
Toll-free: (800) 741-7440
Email: prugg@athena-group.com
Internet: www.athena-group.com