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Unformatted text preview: results, both positive and negative. I don’t have access to the cryptanalysis done by any of the myriad military security organizations in the world (which are probably better than the academic institutions—they’ve been doing it longer and are better funded), so it is possible that these algorithms are easier to break than it appears. Even so, it is far more likely that they are more secure than an algorithm designed and implemented in secret in some corporate basement. The hole in all this reasoning is that we don’t know the abilities of the various military cryptanalysis organizations. What algorithms can the NSA break? For the majority of us, there’s really no way of knowing. If you are arrested with a DES-encrypted computer hard drive, the FBI is unlikely to introduce the decrypted plaintext at your trial; the fact that they can break an algorithm is often a bigger secret than any information that is recovered. During WWII, the Allies were forbidden from using decrypted German Ultra traffic unless they could have plausibly gotten the information elsewhere. The only way to get the NSA to admit to the ability to break a given algorithm is to encrypt something so valuable that its public dissemination is worth the admission. Or, better yet, create a really funny joke and send it via encrypted e-mail to shady characters in shadowy countries. NSA employees are people, too; I doubt even they can keep a good joke secret. A good working assumption is that the NSA can read any message that it chooses, but that it cannot read all messages that it chooses. The NSA is limited by resources, and has to pick and choose among its various targets. Another good assumption is that they prefer breaking knuckles to breaking codes; this preference is so strong that they will only resort to breaking codes when they wish to preserve the secret that they have read the message. In any case, the best most of us can do is to choose among public algorithms that have withstood a reasonable amount of public scrutiny and...
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This note was uploaded on 10/18/2010 for the course MATH CS 301 taught by Professor Aliulger during the Fall '10 term at Koç University.
- Fall '10