Exploring RSA Encryption in OpenSSL
This is by no means a comprehensive explanation of how RSA works, nor is it meant to be. Hopefully, it explained some of the more obscure details. The security of RSA is based on the difficulty of factoring large numbers, which is next to impossible for 1,024-bit numbers today. This could change tomorrow, however, as technology develops. The RSA factoring challenge from RSA Labs has the latest public information on factoring (see Resources).
The OpenSSL library is used in several open-source packages. Some prominent ones you might be familiar with include Samba, Apache-SSL and OpenSSH. If you are interested in learning more about how to implement encryption algorithms or their security, some Resources are listed below.
Kernighan & Ritchie, The C Programming Language
Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming, Vol. 2
Schneier, Applied Cryptography
Menezes, Alfred J., Van Oorschot, Paul C. and Vanstone, Scott A., Handbook of Applied Cryptography
James Tandon currently consults for Computer Motion and likes dogs better than cats. His home page is www.antinomian.net.