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We present a new family of so-called reducible rank codes which are a generalization of rank product codes . This family includes maximal rank distance (MRD) codes for lengths n>N in the field FN. We give methods for encoding and decoding reducible rank codes. A public key cryptosystem based on these codes and on the idea of a column scrambler is proposed. The column scrambler "mixes" columns of a generator (parity-check) matrix of a code. It makes the system more resistant to structural attacks such as Gibson's attacks. Possible attacks on the system are thoroughly studied. The system is found to be secure against known attacks for public keys of about 16 kbits and greater.
Date of Publication: Dec. 2003