Keeping The Eavesdropper Out Of Your Credit Card Business: The Mathematics Of Internet Security

Sean Sather Wagstaff, assistant professor of mathematics, will present the next Science Café topic, “Keeping the Eavesdropper Out of Your Credit Card Business: The Mathematics of Internet Security” on Thursday, Sept. 16 from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in Stokers Basement, Hotel Donaldson, 101 N. Broadway. It is free and open to the public and sponsored by the College of Science and Mathematics.

Wagstaff will present some of the basic ideas behind the RSA encryption algorithm, named after its inventors, Rivest, Shamir and Adleman. With millions of people completing transactions online involving submission of personal data such as credit card numbers and home addresses, what makes them so confident that data is secure? Mathematics holds the key.

The security of RSA depends on the fact that it is computationally difficult to factor large numbers. Amazingly, the fascinating mathematics behind this algorithm is readily accessible to anyone with a basic understanding of high school algebra.

Contact Keri Drinka at or 1-6131 for questions about the Science Café.