How a Crypto 'Backdoor' Pitted the Tech World Against the NSA

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Menezes, it tackles one of the great mysteries of the year Yes, that is a real paper title. For most of the past century, the NSA and its predecessors have jealously guarded a monopoly on advanced cryptography. This approach worked reasonably well through the s, then rapidly became unsustainable. There were a couple of reasons for this. First, the PC revolution made it impossible for the NSA to keep encryption out of the hands of ordinary users and industry — as much as the NSA tried to make this so. Second, Congress got fed up with paying for expensive bespoke computer systems, and decided the DoD should buy its computing equipment off the shelf like everyone else. The result was the Cryptographic Modernization Program, and Suite B — the first public cryptography standard to include non-classified algorithms certified for encrypting Secret and Top Secret data. The NSA pushed hard for adoption.

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The talk was only nine slides elongate. But those nine slides were potentially dynamite. They laid out a argument showing that a new encryption accepted, given a stamp of approval as a result of the U. But the weakness they described wasn't just an average defencelessness, it had the kind of properties one would want if one were intentionally inserting a backdoor to accomplish the algorithm susceptible to cracking as a result of design. For such a dramatic appearance -- by mathematicians' standards -- the reaction to it was surprisingly gentle. The Times story has kindled a firestorm over the integrity of the byzantine process that produces security standards. The Timescrypto experts note, hasn't released the memos that purport to ascertain the existence of a backdoor, after that the paper's direct quotes from the classified documents don't mention any backdoor in the algorithm or efforts as a result of the NSA to weaken it before the standard. They only discuss efforts to push the standard through committees for approval.