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Unformatted text preview: o listen in on non-U.S. communications. The NSA is known to be the largest employer of mathematicians in the world; it is also the largest purchaser of computer hardware in the world. The NSA probably possesses cryptographic expertise many years ahead of the public state of the art (in algorithms, but probably not in protocols) and can undoubtedly break many of the systems used in practice. But, for reasons of national security, almost all information about the NSA—even its budget—is classified. (Its budget is rumored to be $13 billion per year—including military funding of NSA projects and personnel—and it is rumored to employ 16,000 people.) The NSA uses its power to restrict the public availability of cryptography, so as to prevent national enemies from employing encryption methods too strong for the NSA to break. James Massey discusses this struggle between academic and military research in cryptography : If one regards cryptology as the prerogative of government, one accepts that most cryptologic research will be conducted behind closed doors. Without doubt, the number of workers engaged today in such secret research in cryptology far exceeds that of those engaged in open research in cryptology. For only about 10 years has there in fact been widespread open research in cryptology. There have been, and will continue to be, conflicts between these two research communities. Open research is a common quest for knowledge that depends for its vitality on the open exchange of ideas via conference presentations and publications in scholarly journals. But can a government agency, charged with responsibilities of breaking the ciphers of other nations, countenance the publication of a cipher that it cannot break? Can a researcher in good conscience publish such a cipher that might undermine the effectiveness of his own government’s code-breakers? One might argue that publication of a provably secure cipher would force all governments to behave like Stimson’s “gentlemen,” but one must be aware that open research in cry...
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- Fall '10