The project in which these achievements were recorded, named "New Records for Integer Factorization and Discrete Logarithm" received 32 million core hours on the German JUWELS supercomputer, hosted by the Gauss Centre for Supercomputing at Forschungszentrum Jülich, via an allocation under the 18th Call for Proposals for PRACE Project Access.
"These achievements prove that in the race for the largest and fastest supercomputer, we should continue to focus on scaling up and improving the applications that run on these machines. With phones, cars, homes, and even cities becoming 'smart' the need for digital security is ever increasing, and Europe can play a leading role here", stated Núria López, Chair of the PRACE Scientific Steering Committee.
RSA-240 is an extremely large number that is the product of two prime numbers. It looks like this:
21206469746700620316443478873837606252372049619334517 * 2446242088383181505678131390240028966538020925789314014520412213365584770951781552582188977350305
Such numbers are used in cryptography which secures communication, protecting for instance your WhatsApp messages from being read by others, and your online banking from being hacked by criminals. It is expected that quantum computers will be able to easily crack these RSA numbers, and researchers are already developing more complex protection measures. Until then, 2048-bit RSA, Diffie-Hellman, and DSA keys are recommended, as these can still lock adversaries out.