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60 Years of Cryptography, 1949-2009

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the established-before-you-were-born dept.

Encryption 104

Dan Jones writes "2009 marks 60 years since the advent of modern cryptography. It was back in October 1949 when mathematician Claude Shannon published a paper on Communication Theory of Secrecy Systems. According to his employer at the time, Bell Labs, the work transformed cryptography from an art to a science and is generally considered the foundation of modern cryptography. Since then significant developments in secure communications have continued, particularly with the advent of the Internet and Web. CIO has a pictorial representation of the past six decades of research and development in encryption technology. Highlights include the design of the first quantum cryptography protocol by Charles Bennett and Gilles Brassard in 1984, and the EFF's 'Deep Crack' DES code breaker of 1998."

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gjstu qptu! (0)

billmcnamara (799238) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488665)

gjstu qptu!

Re:gjstu qptu! (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 5 years ago | (#29497755)

The constant struggle to hide transactions and data will continue for many more years I imagine.

Its funny talking to a friend working at Pine Gap about just how easily these agencies bypass so-called cryptography. Its scary really. Given, the techniques used don't always involve finding weaknesses in the design of particular algorithm in question. Still, stuff I thought was safe....isn't.

Not particularly heart-warming stuff. =)
Nevertheless, I have great respect for the brilliant cryptographers out there and what they've done for the industry.

Hooray! (2, Insightful)

Carra (1220410) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488667)

Ubbenl gb rapbqvat!

Uncrackable encryption (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489111)

I have developed my own uncrackable form of encryption, the only downside being that it takes a long time. The process basically involves saving my data to a Linux filesystem, and then waiting until the OS inevitably corrupts itself beyond compare. Hey presto, encrypted data!

Re:Uncrackable encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29492399)

I don't think an ext3 filesystem would be the best choice for this, maybe reiserfs or ext4fs or some other experimental one. FAT variants seem to be the best choice of the major ones if you want some really good corruption, and you have to disable or skip file system checking (made that mistake myself years and years back with a fat filesystem I was mounting read-write in Linux on a box that kept getting shut down improperly, never had a file system check of the FAT filesystem running on startup and it ended up hideously corrupted). As for file system corruption as a form of encryption, not very reliable, most of the data can be recovered trivially. One way encryption schemes that leave data unrecoverable by throwing out critical parts of it are an interesting idea. I suppose the most general purpose one would be to overwrite everything with zeros and then release all the bits back to the filesystem. Otherwise known as deletion. I suppose that could be considered to be a form of encryption that requires special conditions to decrypt, such as recovering overwritten bits with a scanning electron microscope, or invention of time travel, or maybe just time viewing (such as in Asimovs _The Dead Past_ or Clarke/Baxters _The Light of Other Days_). That's an interesting thought, encrypting data so that it can only ever be retrieved by some hypothetical future technology.

Re:Hooray! (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490209)

?yhpargotpyrc nredom-erp dna yhpargotpyrc nredom neewteb ecnereffid eht si tahW

Re:Hooray! (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490523)

Fair question. I think it was the application of numerical theory, the idea that if you treated characters as numbers that you could encrypt them with math. Your post is a great example of pre-modern crypto.

Re:Hooray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29490695)

Wizzardry...See Merlin in:

gnik erutuf dna ecno ehT

Re:Hooray! (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490313)

For those who aren't cryptographers: that message decrypts as "First Post!"

re (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29488671)

gotdy qpdy

Can we have an article please? (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488673)

Ad-laden slideshows are not my favorite sources of information.

Re:Can we have an article please? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29488721)

Well, all slashdot readers have probably read The Code Book [simonsingh.net] by Simon Singh years ago. No article is needed at this point, nothing new here.

Re:Can we have an article please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29490143)

From the summary:

2009 marks 60 years since the advent of modern cryptography. It was back in October 1949...

Guys, take notes. This is how you phrase an anniversary ahead of everybody else to ensure you get your crap submitted.

Re:Can we have an article please? (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490745)

Ad-laden slideshows...

Is he Bin-laden's cousin?

Re:Can we have an article please? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29491809)

Thats cryptography via annoyance. Their data is safe... for now.

Caesar (1, Interesting)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488683)

Didn't Caesar already do this in classic Rome?

Re:Caesar (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488697)

"transformed cryptography from an art to a science"

Re:Caesar (4, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488795)

Though that might had happened earlier than the summary suggests...from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biuro_Szyfrow#Enigma_solved [wikipedia.org] :

Rejewski made in December 1932, according to historian David Kahn, one of the greatest advances in cryptologic history by applying pure mathematics group theory to breaking the German armed forces' Enigma machine ciphers.

BTW, since most of you are unlikely to read the whole wiki article, there's one very amusing part... ;p

On September 17, as the Soviet Army invaded Poland, Cipher Bureau personnel crossed the southeastern border with other Polish military and government personnel, into Romania. They eventually made their way to France where, at "PC Bruno", outside Paris, they continued breaking German Enigma traffic in collaboration with Bletchley Park, fifty miles northwest of London, England. In the interest of security, the allied cryptological services, before sending their messages over a teletype line, encrypted them using Enigma doubles. Henri Braquenié often closed messages with a "Heil Hitler!"

Re:Caesar (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488963)

Exactly what I thought. I don't know how the Enigma was developed but it was a very sound device, and there are still messages that we can not decypher. Even having one in your hands didn't help much if you don't know the settings.

But then this feels like a pretty much US centric article, only looking at cryptographic advances in the US (admittedly most comes from there - but the article lists exclusively US achievements).

Germany was certainly very advanced cryptographically with their Enigma machine. Unfortunately this machine ended up on the losing side of the war, so a lot of the knowledge will have been lost thanks to that.

What? (3, Informative)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489053)

> Unfortunately this machine ended up on the losing side of the war, so a lot of the
> knowledge will have been lost thanks to that.

Er, the German guy who invented the Enigma was killed in a horse carriage accident in 1929. So, no, the war had no direct effect on cryptographic knowledge in the way you imply. Considering the enormous number of casualties on both sides, however, I'm sure it affected it in a general way.

Cool Enigma Facts (2, Informative)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489575)

I've recently become rather fascinated by the Enigma machine and the operation of the device. The Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article is worth a read.

Couple of cool things to know about the Enigma:

I believe it was the first machine to have symmetrical encoding and decoding. Because it had a this property (as a letter was coded through the rotors, there was a rotor that reflected the encoding back through the rotor stages again), an operator could code and decode messages without reconfiguring the device.

Due to the fact above, the Enigma could never encode a letter onto itself. This greatly decreased the permutations allowed and made the device less effective.

The way the Germans used the machine also made the device easy to crack. Operators would encode the rotor setup in the message. This allowed verifying that the right settings were being used. Also, the Germans would include many standard phrases like praise for the Fuhrer.

Though the Enigma machine is the most well known device, there were many rotor based encoders during the WWII and post era.

There are many simulators of the Enigma machine (see the Wikipedia article). Very cool to play with to really understand the operation of the device.

Re:Cool Enigma Facts (2, Informative)

amw (636271) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490413)

I believe it was the first machine to have symmetrical encoding and decoding. Because it had a this property (as a letter was coded through the rotors, there was a rotor that reflected the encoding back through the rotor stages again), an operator could code and decode messages without reconfiguring the device. Due to the fact above, the Enigma could never encode a letter onto itself. This greatly decreased the permutations allowed and made the device less effective.

I may be misunderstanding your cause and effect combination slightly here, but the symmertical encoding/decoding did not cause Engima to never encode a letter onto itself; that was specifically because of the reflector cog at the end of the wheels and the design of the electrical circuit within the machine.

Operators would encode the rotor setup in the message.

Twice (in case there were problems in receiving the messages); this led to the British and Polish (who never get enough public credit, IMO) knowing, for example, that if the message started 'ABCDEF', then A and D were the same original letter, and likewise with B/E and C/F. Herivel should also be credited with his work in predicting the rotor setups based on relatively simply psychology

Also, the Germans would include many standard phrases like praise for the Fuhrer.

Of more use was a certain weather station that broadcast messages at a set time every day and started each with 'WETTER'.

There are many simulators of the Enigma machine (see the Wikipedia article). Very cool to play with to really understand the operation of the device.

Writing one helps you appreciate it even more [suitcase.org] . Even the rotation of each cog isn't as simple as it seems.

Re:Cool Enigma Facts (1)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 5 years ago | (#29493761)

I believe it was the first machine to have symmetrical encoding and decoding. Because it had a this property (as a letter was coded through the rotors, there was a rotor that reflected the encoding back through the rotor stages again), an operator could code and decode messages without reconfiguring the device. Due to the fact above, the Enigma could never encode a letter onto itself. This greatly decreased the permutations allowed and made the device less effective.

I may be misunderstanding your cause and effect combination slightly here, but the symmertical encoding/decoding did not cause Engima to never encode a letter onto itself; that was specifically because of the reflector cog at the end of the wheels and the design of the electrical circuit within the machine.

Writing one helps you appreciate it even more [suitcase.org] . Even the rotation of each cog isn't as simple as it seems.

You are, of course, correct on the reflector being specifically why a letter couldn't be mapped onto itself. The reflector configuration was also the reason, unless I'm mistaken, it was symmetrical. I wasn't at all clear but I was attempting to make the same point as you are. More reason for everyone to go and read up on the machine!

I am starting to write my own simulator from scratch (most of the sample code I've seen limits how you can use it: isn't public domain or liberal Creative Commons). I have many little details still to get right (like the middle rotor double step) and I'm enjoying the challenge.

Certainly not an expert but think the history of the machine and design is a great read for geeks.

Not all that sound (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489611)

Lax crypto discipline was a big factor in helping to break Enigma traffic, but there were fundamental quirks in the operation of the units that prevented it from being as secure as the Germans believed it to be. (also, after more than one investigation that indicated Enigma traffic was being broken, the Germans refused to believe that their design was insecure).

- a letter was never encrypted as itself (the famous example is the message that contained all letters of the alphabet except one, thereby indicating, not only that the plaintext consisted of only the letter missing in the ciphertext, but the sequencing of the rotor changes)

- the reflector rotor never moved, and there were only three (four in some units) rotors.

- there were only six "stecker" jumper wires, so only six pairs of letters could be swapped

Enigma was anything but sound, and more so because it depended so much on the operators. That the Allies were able to break Enigma traffic on a continuing basis is proof of that.

Looking at the SIGABA rotor scheme, you can see immediately that it is a far more complex unit than the Enigma, and (as far has been disclosed) it was never broken. And that's not because the Germans never tried.

Re:Not all that sound (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489831)

I believe lax usage was how it was broken though.

To break Navy messages didn't the notebook full of keys need to be stolen?

The flawed usage by the ground forces allowed for the cracking using the spin lots of enigma machines (I forget the name)

Re:Caesar (1)

plover (150551) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490659)

The Enigma was one of the most advanced pre-modern cryptosystems. But it still treated letters as letters. To get to the next level, the separation of data (letters) from encryption into math operations was needed. This happened in parallel with the development of digital computers. Really, many of those advancements came from cryptanalysis of Enigma itself.

Re:Caesar (1)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490895)

No the Enigma machine was not a cryptographically sound device. It's major technical flaw was that it would never substitute a letter for itself thanks to the way its circuitry worked.

Re:Caesar (1)

amw (636271) | more than 5 years ago | (#29491281)

No the Enigma machine was not a cryptographically sound device. It's major technical flaw was that it would never substitute a letter for itself thanks to the way its circuitry worked.

And in 30 years time, we may well be saying that PGP was 'not a cryptographically sound algorithm', 'It's major technical flaw was that it relied on not being able to factorise a 30-digit number'.

I think the GP just meant 'very strong', not 'very sound' - which for the time, it was. Its major flaw was actually its users.

Re:Caesar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489087)

No shh, Americans invented cryptography in 1949 like the article says! Heh, next you'll be claiming the British demonstrated transmitting television pictures on a demo in the shopping centre Harrods, several years before Americans claimed to invent the television. Which also can't possibly be true.

It's a secret. (1)

Msdose (867833) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488707)

I remember reading the book Crypto. They spent all the time describing what they ate for breakfast. Never did get around to describing any of the algorithms. I figure they weren't allowed to. They didn't even have the guts to tell us. Must have been afraid it would affect sales of the book. Or maybe they weren't allowed to tell us they weren't allowed to tell us. Heroes aren't what they used to be.

Re:It's a secret. (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490877)

You, apparently, didn't buy the key to the book. The actual story that is revealed is a knee slapping, edge of seat read that will make you laugh, cry, slap your mamma. Oh, and it has all the stuff you really wanted. Next time you buy a book on cryptography, turn it 90 degrees, read back to front, right to left, every other character on odd pages that aren't prime, every fourth letter on even pages that don't end in zero. Once you've collected the letters, use the ISBN as a skip guide to pull letters off of the prime numbered and even pages ending in zero, this is your key to the rest of the text.

Re:It's a secret. (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29492105)

If you are looking for a good "quick primer" on cryptography and cryptanalysis through recent history, Simon Singh's "Code Book" is a good read.

He talks about the people involved (what they were hiding, or why they wanted stuff unhiding) as much as the techniques in places and covers related areas like deciphering ancient languages - this helps the uninitiated reader develop a sense of how it all fits in with the rest of life and makes the book far less dry than other books with a similar goals.

There is an amount of technical detail as well too, enough for the interested reader to grasp the basics. You'll not pass any scientific qualifications using this one book, but after reading it you'll at least know what to look for by way of further reading.

Mention of Enigma (5, Insightful)

fan of lem (1092395) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488771)

But none of Alan Turing.

Re:Mention of Enigma (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489379)

That's SO gay.

Re:Mention of Enigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29491607)

As long as you keep him on your FB profile, he will be happy.

Zimmermann should have two Ns. (1)

prz (648630) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488831)

I wish the article spelled Zimmermann with two Ns.

Re:Zimmermann should have two Ns. (1)

MikeDX (560598) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488877)

Wouldn't that be NNimmermann? :)

Great Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29488871)

-----BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux)

mQGiBEq3RpgRBAC32oLUAaR4dFujNcEedZ4Ws1Ky/bKjULLxWNixY0qLAV8EEYSw

-----END PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK-----

How come? (5, Insightful)

dex22 (239643) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488879)

How come history is written so that "Modern Cryptography" starts when an American writes a paper, some seven years after the British have developed computers to automatically crack Germany's enigma codes? Modern cryptography isn't just the creation of the cipher, but the appreciation of modern techniques to crack it.

If this article can make such an arbitrary assumption about what is modern, I give little credit to how misinformed the rest of the article may be. It's how Americans steal history, so they can define it in their own favor.

I do not mean to flame. I am just skeptical of assumptions, when such a basic assumption is so inherently wrong.

Re:How come? (4, Informative)

stuckinarut (891702) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489117)

The British came up with public key encryption [nytimes.com] well before Diffie & Hellman but since the work was for the secret service it was all highly classified. The work belonged to the government and couldn't be patented for profit as RSA has been. Bit hard to be part of history if it's all totally hush hush.

Can't remember where I heard this, some Discovery channel programme probably, but the guy that did a lot of the work wasn't allowed to take anything out of the secure building he worked in and nor was he allowed to write anything down so alledgedly did all his mathematical work in his head. Bit hard to believe really but not that implausible.

Re:How come? (1)

stuckinarut (891702) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489119)

Sorry, he was allowed to write stuff down at work just not at home and did the work there in his head ...

Re:How come? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489599)

The work at Bletchley Park was concerned with deciphering an existing code. That takes real ingenuity and perseverance.

Shannon's contribution was to show how secrecy could be defined and measured mathematically, giving the first basis for formally proving an encryption scheme offered secrecy. Prior to that, gauging secrecy was basically through trial and error: if someone could crack the cipher easily, it apparently offered poor secrecy. But if some cipher proved resilient, nothing was really known other than it hadn't yet met its code cracker: someone might come along the next day and say "Oh, that's obvious, here's how to crack it..." For a cipher that has provable secrecy properties, this isn't possible, and there was no rigorous means to assess this before Shannon's contribution.

That said, although Shannon's work provides rigor for modern analysis of cryptosystems, his theories have not really guided their design.

Bell labs (3, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489131)

Don't blame the US. This is a bit of special pleading for Bell Labs, where Shannon worked.

In fact, as is well known, A M Turing worked at Bell for a short time during WW2. He also learnt at Princeton the electronics that made the Bombes possible.

Modern cryptanalysis was a US/UK cooperation with information and development coming from both sides The Poles obtained an Enigma and started the mathematical theory of decrypting Enigma messages: the analysts at Bletchley, of whom Turing was only one (remember I J Good, anybody?) too it forward, and then post-Pearl Harbor it became (at least in part) a joint venture. It isn't necessary for the US to pretend that they did it all by themselves; we associate that kind of insecurity with the Soviet Union.

The (US) guy who recently wrote a history of D-Day (sorry, forget his name) writes somewhere that while the perception that in WW2 the British had the ideas and the US provided the productive capacity is not really correct as it stands, there is some truth in it. That should really be good enough for everybody.

Re:Bell labs (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490255)

It isn't necessary for the US to pretend that they did it all by themselves; we associate that kind of insecurity with the Soviet Union.

The rest of the world associates it with Hollywood.

Oh stop (1, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489141)

Seriously, anti-American bitching gets really old. You don't like that America was a major force behind crypto? Too bad, that's how it is, stop whining.

As for why they chose this, well it makes sense. Modern cryptography, as in the crypto we use these days, started with Shannon's paper. This is when things started becoming a real science, making extensive use of number theory and so on. Prior to that, crypto was largely just whatever sort of codes people could come up with that seemed hard. There wasn't any good science behind it.

A good example would be the code talkers, used by the US. The code was never broken during the war, but not because it was unbreakable. All it was was a language that wasn't spoken in Europe, and very dissimilar to European languages. That combined with misleading terminology made it something the Axis couldn't crack. However, there was no good math/science keeping it uncrackable. All they'd have needed to do was get a code talker who was willing to work for them and the thing would have been useless.

While the British worked on code breaking, and some of what was discovered there applies to modern code breaking, they didn't work on modern coding techniques. Their concern was breaking the codes of the day, understandably.

There really is a massive before/after crypto divide with regards to Shannon's paper. All crypto we use these days is traceable back to then. Thus it makes sense as a starting point for modern cryptography.

So seriously, chill with the US hating. To me this chosen starting point doesn't seem at all about the US trying to "steal" history, it seems like a sensible historical fact. You look at how modern codes work and you say "What started this? Where did this come from?" it comes back to that paper.

Re:Oh stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489243)

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Wtf? (3, Insightful)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489269)

"While the British worked on code breaking, and some of what was discovered there applies to modern code breaking, they didn't work on modern coding techniques. Their concern was breaking the codes of the day, understandably."

Oh right, so conveniently the 1940s don't count as "modern" , but the 1950s do? What a crock of shit. Talk about modifiying meanings to suit your own ends. The german codes were created using a machine and on the british side were partly decoded using electronic computers. If that doesn't count as modern then I don't know what does.

Re:Wtf? (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490411)

Indeed - I look forward to in ten years' time, when we'll be celebrating 60 years of modern Cryptography, 1959-2019.

"Modern" is "within the last 60 years", don't you know. If we dig up a Slashdot article from 1999, we'll probably find a "60 years of crytography, 1939-1999", which will fairly report all of the British achievements in the 40s, as ten years ago they were still considered modern.

The good news is that for those who can't wait bear to wait another ten years, next year we'll be celebrating the extra special anniversary of 1950-2010. However, I'm afraid that Claude Shannon won't get a mention anymore, as 1949 won't be modern anymore.

Re:Wtf? (3, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 5 years ago | (#29492087)

In the 1940s, the British were no further along in designing codes than the Germans. Both used ingenious versions of the old letter substitution algorithm. Shannon's paper and the advent of digital computers were a watershed in code design.
That the British used electronic computers to break German codes is entirely beside the point. It's not a coincidence the headline talks about 'cryptography' and not the art of reading or breaking codes, i.e. cryptanalysis.

"Modern" (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29492925)

Oh right, so conveniently the 1940s don't count as "modern" , but the 1950s do?

No, no, silly. Modern isn't determined by a decade. It's determined by whenever the Americans got involved.

Don't be ridiculous (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489303)

As I noted above "It isn't necessary for the US to pretend that they did it all by themselves; we associate that kind of insecurity with the Soviet Union."

There is not a "massive divide". A growing body of knowledge got formalised into a useful structure. We don't say modern physics began with Newton, Einstein or Planck. We recognise a continuum. Modern cryptography clearly began in the 1930s when people started formulating mechanical means of encryption and decryption, advanced when mechanical means of codebreaking were developed in the 40s, and then advanced further when Bell Labs (not just Shannon) put this all together to produce a general theory.

I suggest you go off and play with the (minority of) US astronomers who object to the downgrading of Pluto because it was the only planet discovered by a US-born astronomer. The achievements of the US make this kind of thing just plain childish, like a billionaire would be who boasted about winning a few dollars in a crap game.

Re:Oh stop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489685)

It's comments like this, "Too bad, that's how it is, stop whining." which make the request, "So seriously, chill with the US hating." unlikely to be listened to. You need to think before you type.

I speak as someone who doesn't hate the US.

Re:How come? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489669)

Who are the British?

Re:How come? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490243)

It's how Americans steal history, so they can define it in their own favor.

No, it's how academics think nobody else can do anything right because they're smarter. You can be doing state of the art work with a sound foundation, but until some PhD comes along and "formalizes" what you're doing, you're just a hacker.

Answer in the summary (1)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 5 years ago | (#29492859)

"According to his employer at the time, Bell Labs"

Hmm. What could be less biased than a company writing a press release about its own achievements?

Next you'll be telling us that the press releases about Segways reinventing personal transportation might not be entirely accurate.

Naaaahh.... (3, Interesting)

ljwest (743563) | more than 5 years ago | (#29488885)

Er... Bletchley Park anyone? Shhhhh - don't mention the war!

A funny side note. (5, Interesting)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489023)

Several years ago I visited the National Cryptologic Museum at Ft Meade MD. http://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/museum/ [nsa.gov]

At the time you had to go through a gate with armed military types then make your way around to the museum parking lot. Once inside, I remembered that I had forgotten to lock my car doors, and mentioned to the guard that I was going to go back out to the parking lot to do this. He looked at me and said, "Don't worry about it, your car is being watched".

In any case, I highly recommend visiting this museum if you are a geek type. from a real Enigma that you can touch, to a Cray II that you can sit on, this place is cryptogeek heaven. A truly interesting experience.

It's easier now. (1)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489759)

I went last year. No guards, it's outside the gate. A very worthwhile visit if you're in the DC area.

In addition to the Enigma and Cray, they have a US Navy Bombe (the Enigma key search machine), a NeXT cube, a USS Liberty memorial and a bunch of other neat stuff.

And a gift shop. Don't forget your NSA logoware. You get an opaque blue shopping bag with nothing printed on it. The receipt is from the "Employee Welfare Fund" or some such. I got a kick (and an NSA coffee mug) out of that.

Re:It's easier now. (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 5 years ago | (#29496773)

I visited it a few years back as well - great place. The mug I bought eventually cracked and leaked. Make of that what you will :-).

Re:A funny side note. (1)

IorDMUX (870522) | more than 5 years ago | (#29495615)

For those of us on the West Coast, there is the Computer History Museum [computerhistory.org] in Mountain View, CA. The California museum also has an Enigma and a Cray-1* (complete with benches), as well as a piece of ENIAC, an original Google server, a System 360, pieces from Apollo, and even a working Babbage Difference Engine. The focus is not on cryptography--rather the general history of computing--but there are plenty of pieces of cryptographic history and codebreakers in their collection.

(*I *thought* it was the Cray-1, rather than the -2, that had benches, but I could be mistaken.)

Shaministic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489163)

What about the art of decrypting meaningfull messages out of random sequences?

Re:Shaministic? (2, Funny)

Arimus (198136) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489263)

Not shaministic - its called requirements analysis.

Take customer/manager, listen to their random and usually contradictory utterances and rearrange into something approaching a set of system requirements.

Re:Shaministic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29491137)

And repeat is necessary. Usually involving applying wall directly to head repeatedly as well.

How do you know when you've decrypted something? (3, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489257)

A stupid question you might think , but unless you know what the output should be , how do you know when you've found it? Unless a computer knows every language on the planet and "reads" ever version of the potential output and decides if it makes sense how can it ever know when the decryption is finished? And what if its not plain text its decrypting but something else entirely such as a binary file? Perhaps I'm just dumb but this is something I've never understodd.

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489283)

Statistical analysis.

Properly encrypted material with a good pseudo-random number generator should appear essentially statistically identical to random white noise. Decrypt the material and the statistical analysis should show something dramatically different from random white noise.

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (3, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489363)

Fair enough , but what if something has been encrypted twice? You've successfully decrypted the 2nd stage but the output is still statistically noise because its still encrypted by the 1st encryption stage. How would you solve this problem?

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489891)

$5 Wrench.

http://xkcd.com/538/

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29489901)

The problem with encrypting something twice is that you've just created another cipher. So instead of breaking the encryption A, you're trying to break A+A=B. Starting from scratch, the task is just as difficult--you have some bits, mapped to other bits, and you're trying to reverse the mapping.

Now, if you're brute forcing things (which assumes you already know the algorithm, and just need to recover the key), it does add an extra layer of work (unless you're using a weak cipher), and double encryption does tend to change the mathematical properties (although not always for the stronger--see double vs. triple DES), but at a very simple level, they're equivalently hard.

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (2, Insightful)

bidule (173941) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489907)

"Encrypted twice" doesn't mean anything. A composed encryption scheme is a single function, same as y = (2x + 1)^2 - 4.

As stated below, steganography is the stopping problem here. Is the secret meaning hidden in typos and word order, or do the words have a second meaning?

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (2, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 5 years ago | (#29491717)

You could encrypt with one algorithm, then take the output from that and encrypt again with a completely different one.

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 5 years ago | (#29497935)

Which, as the GP poster noted, is functionally identical to encrypting with a single, third algorithm. The reason you don't do this is that you don't know the cryptographic properties of the third algorithm. It could be more secure than either of the original algorithms, but it just as easily could be less secure.

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (2, Informative)

Phred T. Magnificent (213734) | more than 5 years ago | (#29492471)

"Encrypted twice" doesn't mean anything. A composed encryption scheme is a single function, same as y = (2x + 1)^2 - 4.

Technically true, but depending on the cipher(s) you use, you may have no idea at all what the resulting function is, and it is therefore often easier to decrypt in the same steps you used for the encryption.

Some cryptographic functions, RSA for instance, are mathematical groups. In other words, RSA(RSA(plaintext, key1), key2) === RSA(plaintext, key3) for some key3 that you probably don't know. In such cases, if you were trying to break the cipher and had no means to recover keys 1 and 2, it would be easier to discover key3 and decrypt in one step.

That's not true for all ciphers, however. DES is one example of a cipher that is not a mathematical group, which is why "TripleDES" is regarded as being more secure than a single pass of DES -- I believe the assumption is that 3 passes of 56-bit DES are about equivalent to a 112 bit key.

All of that theory, of course, breaks down if you can get at the original keys. Rubber-hose cryptanalysis has the obvious advantages of being fast and computationally cheap.

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 5 years ago | (#29491867)

If something is encrypted twice with two different keys, what you actually have is a new crypto algorithm with a longer key. See:

cryptoA(keyA, plaintext) = ciphertext
cryptoB(keyB, plaintext) = ciphertext

So you propose doing

cryptoA(keyA, cryptoB(keyB, plaintext)) = ciphertext

This could be rewritten as cryptoC(keyA+keyB, plaintext) = ciphertext

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (4, Informative)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489321)

You don't know - and neither does the computer.

Decryption is a mathematical operation. You are given a blob of yunk. You can be fairly certain it is encrypted with a given cipher because it meets certain characteristics - either length, or hash-depth, or there is a header or footer of a given length, or some revealing information about the cipher may have been sent prior to or alongside the encrypted blob.

Then, if you're smart enough, or you have enough money, or time, or computing power, or a lot of luck, the decryption operation might occur. You can check as to whether or not you've successfully decrypted the data mathematically - e.g. does the result set fit with the function I've just run and give me the source data I started with? If so, yes, you've decrypted the data.

It's your responsibility as a researcher to decide what to do with whatever came out the other side. You may have to decrypt it again before proceeding. You may find out that what you just decrypted was nothing more sinister than ICMP_FRAGMENTATION_REQUIRED (Frak!).

The holy grail of cryptography may infact be steganographical encryption - or binary / machine language that reads as Grandmother's Cookie Recipe, but when run as an executable it actually glasses the machine. Who knows?

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490087)

it actually glasses the machine.

Sigh, who ever used this terminology? Do you really call character terminals glass terminals? None of my computers involve any glass any more; if they do it's quartz glass in an EPROM, and I sincerely doubt I even have anything with a real EPROM in it any more :P

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29497517)

"None of my computers involve any glass any more"

So you're not running an iMac then [arstechnica.com] ?

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29490221)

Encrypted text is as close to random as can be reasonably designed; plain text is very non-random. For example, printable ASCII is represented by a byte whose first bit is a zero. If you sample every eighth bit in a test decrypt, and they're all zeroes, then the chance your decryption has succeeded is 1-(1/2)^N where N is the number of bytes in the message. After test decrypting a message of any reasonable length (say 100 bytes), and you're still hitting all zeroes, you can be fairly confident the decryption has succeeded. Of course, this only works on encrypted ASCII, but the method can be adapted to any system where the method of representing data has a known pattern. Even binary files have a regular structure that allow them to be used by a computer processor. In fact, a binary file is even easier to decrypt by using a 'known plaintext' attack -- only test decrypts that match the known file format are saved as candidates. (Knowing the pattern of the data comes from other sources, for example from knowing what frequency a particular message was transmitted on, or when it was transmitted.)

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (1)

Uncle Rummy (943608) | more than 5 years ago | (#29493863)

Here's a bit by Schneier on how to recognize plaintext [schneier.com] . Basically, plaintext looks like plaintext, either because it's intelligible lanugage, or because it matches the characteristics of a standard document format (headers, layout, etc.)

How one would go about programming a computer to recognize plaintext, I have no idea, but presumably somebody smarter than me has worked it out.

Re:How do you know when you've decrypted something (1)

owlstead (636356) | more than 5 years ago | (#29495425)

If it is like ASCII text (or UTF-8 text with many ASCII characters) then this is easy: you just test how many times a byte representing a character is present. Values 30h to 39h and 61h to, er, 6Ah are lower case characters. Of these characters some are much more present than others, the letter e is most common. Binary data otoh tends to have a lot of bytes with value 00h, e.g. for representing signed positive numbers (and more commonly 32 bit encoded numbers with initial low values), NOP instructions, aligning, null terminated strings, default values etc. etc.. With the file command in Unix you can find many common file formats, XML and ASN.1 BER encoding (commonly used to wrap cryptographic messages) are very easy to identify as well. And sometimes you just know the start of the message anyway, because it has been standardized..

ROT13... (1)

overbaud (964858) | more than 5 years ago | (#29489397)

... what a joke!

Re:ROT13... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29492037)

Yes, because ROT26 is stronger encryption (given that it has a higher number), and I have deduced that you were indeed using the higher encryption in your above post. The decrypted from ROT26 is found below:

... what a joke!

Re:ROT13... (1)

Ilgaz (86384) | more than 5 years ago | (#29495101)

If it is used in its purpose, ROT13 is a great thing. Ever checked Wikipedia about movie title just before entering the movie? Try one time but careful, just 3-4 lines later, entire plot has been described including the ending.

Back in old days, people on Usenet, discussing about a movie's turning points, used ROT13 in such paragraphs. It is just one example... It was never intended to be a real crypto system.

With Thanks to Wikimedia (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490083)

CIO has a pictorial representation of the past six decades of research and development in encryption technology.

And every [wikipedia.org] , single [wikipedia.org] , image [wikipedia.org] in that slide show is ripped directly from Wikipedia. In fact, the entire presentation is little more that a digest of someones Wikitrip.

As Paul Graham(I think) said, "Pay to view content on the internet may as well not exist". Given that information not on the internet is becoming increasingly obsolete, this maxim can be extended to the conclusion that; the only content that will matter is that which is freely available online. People such as journalists or even reviewing researchers are not going to go to the hassle of chasing down sources closeted in dusty libraries or the like, when low hanging fruit such as Wikipedia pages are so easily accessible.

There was a story a few weeks ago about how a copyright black hole [ft.com] is swallowing our culture. Well, it's swallowing more than that. It's swallowing cold hard facts, data, progress and information too. Compound this easily accessible and digestible, though lower quality, alternatives available online at places like Wikipedia, and you are seeing the beginning of a major shift in how our society comes by its information and the truth itself.

For over 5 months Wikipedia had an incorrect start date for World War 2 [wikipedia.org] . In the new information regime that is emerging, for a great many (mostly younger) people, for those 5 months, that became the start date for World War 2. The (old) correct date was cloistered away in libraries and pay per view papers or books. The new date was the first hit on a Google search. Which is more likely to become the dominant interpretation?

We have seen it time and again. Cheaper and easier will win out over expensive and difficult. The same is now happening for information. This doesn't necessarily mean that cheap and easy has to be worse, but in the case of finding cold hard facts online, it is. There is no quality control on the internet hive mind [jonathancrossfield.com] . The online or Wikipedia version of the truth is becoming the dominant one, and with the black hole swallowing all the hard facts, how will we ever find the real truth again?

Orwell was right about the outcome, but wrong about the method. You don't need to hide the truth. You just need to make the alternatives easier to find.

Re:With Thanks to Wikimedia (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 5 years ago | (#29491969)

Wait, somebody uses "The late 1930s" in place of "September 3, 1939" and this supports your argument that somehow truth is being obscured?

I can see complaining if the date went from specific to general to generally incorrect, but this example is manifestly the reverse of that. Seems like truth is getting easier to find, doesn't it?

Re:With Thanks to Wikimedia (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#29492583)

The "Late 1930's" date was up on the page from the 8th of March to the 17th of July last year. That's a long time for the page to be wrong. Consider what the first result for "World War 2" was for that period. How many people read that article to find out things like the start date.

My point here is that while the correct start date is well known, an incorrect date was the easiest one to find. Sure, this is an easy case and you can complain about lazy researchers. But when things get more complicated than this simple example, and when the true information is far more difficult to come across, what are going to become the accepted interpretation of the facts, or even the facts themselves? Remember, even this simple error went unmolested for five months.

The article is the summary of a Wikitrip, that much is clear. But there is more to the history of cyrography than it's interpretation in the pages of Wikipedia. Who controls those pages. As another poster mentioned [slashdot.org] , the article states that modern cryptography begins with Shannon? Why does it do this, while ignoring the Bletchley Park cryptographers and their breaking of the ENIGMA system. It does so because that is where the Wikipedia pages says modern cryptography began [wikipedia.org] . What about other sources, expert opinions? Doesn't matter. Wikipedia is the lowest hanging fruit.

This is really very serious. Not only has our society made reliable sources harder to access, but we've given more prominence to unreliable sources. Well, at least Google has, which is rich considering that they think the internet is a cesspool of misinformation [cnet.com] . Yet they value the cesspool over better sources, because they have to. The better sources simply aren't online.

Essentially, Encyclopedia Britannica has the correct idea on how to get correct information; You ask an expert. That might sound elitist, but that's the way it is. Unfortunately, Encyclopedia Britannica won't put that information online, for free. This means, in an increasingly real way, that that information may as well not exist. This doesn't apply to general encyclopedia information. It applies to cold hard facts too.

How we archive our information is at least as important as how be discover it. If all we do is hoard the facts and promote half truths, then what does the truth become?

Re:With Thanks to Wikimedia (1)

Karhgath (312043) | more than 5 years ago | (#29494499)

"Late 1930s" is not wrong. In fact, it IS accurate. Of course, it is less specific than a precise date, but it is not wrong. In fact, they might have used it because there was some concerns about using a date like september 1st or 3rd which are in contention (did it start when Germany attacked or when the Allies declared war?). So in fact, Late 1930s could be more accurate than a specific date for some people.

So, I do not understand your concerns. If I did something on september 8th 2008 and I refer to it as : "Last year", or "last september", am I wrong? Didn't think so.

I'd understand if the entry said : On "August 9th" or an obvious innacurate date, but it's not the case. You're obviously grasping at straws in hope of making an attack on Wikipedia or something, because I cannot understand your argument. I can see where you want to go, but it is based on a false premise and puts in doubt your motives.

Re:With Thanks to Wikimedia (1)

socceroos (1374367) | more than 5 years ago | (#29497925)

I would say that the truth is getting easier to access, not to find.

Re:With Thanks to Wikimedia (1)

Kidbro (80868) | more than 5 years ago | (#29492129)

I'm assuming you mean that WWII did not start until Japan's attack on the USA?
Well - the views differ. I've been through school long before Wikipedia existed (or was even considered), and all my history books talk about September 1939. I'm not going to claim to know what "historians" think of the matter - other than that they probably disagree, and that you're likely to see one opinion more strongly represented on either side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Re:With Thanks to Wikimedia (2, Interesting)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 5 years ago | (#29492793)

There are numerous possible starting dates for WWII.

In 1937, Japan attacked China, and this war was the first of the ones that merged to form WWII. It's a legitimate start date.

September 1939 is popular, either September 1 after which Germany was always at war, or September 3 when Britain and France declared war.

Of course, this was still a much smaller war than WWI, and it consisted of occasional campaigns united only by British resistance. We have a comparable situation in the early 19th Century, the Napoleonic Wars, and you'll notice the plural there. The expansion of the European war to WWI size, and the start of continuous high-intensity fighting for Germany, came on June 22, 1941, with the invasion of the Soviet Union.

The remaining reasonable dates are in December 1941, when the Pacific war started, and it merged with the China war and the European war to create a war far larger than any previous one. After (IIRC) December 11, all major world powers were at war, on two sides, and with the exception of the Soviet-Japanese neutrality each major member of each side was at war with all major members of the other side.

So, use 1937, either of two dates in September 1939, June 22, 1941, or any of a few December 1941 dates. There's good arguments for all of them.

Re:With Thanks to Wikimedia (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 5 years ago | (#29497585)

"There is no quality control on the internet hive mind"

There's no quality control on the human hive mind either - despite the arts, academia, government and media's belief that they are the Second Foundation and above all that messy human emotional stuff. If you look at the history of human 'knowledge' it's actually a string of bitter arguments, some of them resolved by actual data, others resolved by sulks and tantrums and appeals to authority. And occasionally huge blunders are discovered and reversed. Others lie hidden in what we're taught as 'truth', yet to be revealed and viciously denounced.

The Internet is just a microcosm of the whole.

Father of Modern Cryptography (1)

petralynn (624791) | more than 5 years ago | (#29490095)

I'd suggest that the author is off by at least 40 years. Check out Riverbank Labs in Geneva, IL. With the onset of World War I, Colonel Fabyan offered the services of his Department of Codes and Ciphers to the Federal Government. Due to the fact that the government had no existing department for this kind of work, they accepted. Riverbank began receiving encoded messages to work on breaking which had been intercepted by the government from unfriendly sources. For many, even today, codes and ciphers are an unknown entity. When the Friedmans began to research sources on codes and ciphers to assist them on the Baconian theory, they realized there was very little written about it. Thus, their work was groundbreaking in developing literature in the field.

Alan Turing did it first... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29490347)

And it had a huge impact on History...

What about Auguste Kerckhoffs? (1)

kill-1 (36256) | more than 5 years ago | (#29491223)

I'd say that Auguste Kerckhoffs is the father of modern cryptography. Kerckhoffs' principle is essentially the same as Shannon's maxim but he formulated it 70 years earlier.

New pointless article scheme: (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#29491981)

1. Set up an arbitrary point in time. (E.g. "the advent of modern cryptography", or "the invention of X by NotActualInventorY"R
2. Create an article, celebrating the X years since then.
3. Write up a crappy "history". (The crappier, the more "controversy" [aka. "troll power"] it will create.)
4. ...
5. PROFIT!

Oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29492367)

http://xkcd.com/257/

It's not quantum cryptography unless ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29494779)

... Someone says: "Oh boy".

Another list (0, Offtopic)

owlstead (636356) | more than 5 years ago | (#29495545)

Reasons why people are suckers for lists:
- they split an article up in several evenly sized pieces
- lists look like they contain serious information
- lists are easy to remember than loose information
- humans like to rate things

But:
- but if the list contains elements that are only loosely coupled
- or if the list is very incomplete
- or if the information in the article is wrong or made up
- or if the information in the list is made up of known facts

Then lists suck. The article is one of those lists. My lists have been constructed in a minute or so, so you may count them to the former or mod me informative. As long as you click on the minus sign in front of the summary.

Construction Workers battle against cryptography (1)

byrdfl3w (1193387) | more than 5 years ago | (#29497161)

I'm pretty sure construction workers had something to do with the DES code breaker. Some of them display an awful amount of "Deep Crack".

Basically (0, Redundant)

Dayofswords (1548243) | more than 5 years ago | (#29498301)

60 Years of keep-away gone high tech.
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